From Pain to Poetry – Debut Collections by Rebecca Parfitt and Christina Thatcher

Poetry Book - More than you wereIt is often true to say that the most incredible poetry comes from the most painful experiences in life. For centuries poets have been transforming their pain into something beautiful and unique which speaks into the lives of others and helps us to confront our own pain, and two Cardiff poets have recently launched debut collections which do just that. Rebecca Parfitt and Christina Thatcher have both produced poetry collections which strike at the heart of what it means to be human, exploring the most intense and painful of emotions.  

The Days After by Rebecca Parfitt, published by Listen Softly London

The Days After is a collection full of heartbreak, focusing on the fallibility of human relationships with a raw, painful edginess that draws you in. Split into three sections (‘The Days Before’, ‘The Days’, and ‘The Days After’) it follows through three distinct periods in the poet’s life.

The Days After by Rebecca Parfitt‘The Days Before’ centres on what seems to be one particular relationship, haunted by fear and unrequited love, with an overbearing presence that hovers in the background. ‘The Days’ suggests a time of healing, and ‘The Days After’ appears to represent a new start.

The poems in the first section are full of bleak, foreboding images that have a certain physicality to them. In ‘The Presence’, for example, we see the simple language of love laced with an undercurrent of pain:

“At dinner, over a cracked lobster claw and candlelight,
you gave me the reason you loved me.
I took that reason away,
swallowed it down.”

There are some quite stark, brutal images too, such as these lines in ‘Sleepwalking’:

“This was where you split me in half,
pitted the core,
then discarded it like a stone,
never looking back”

My favourite poem in the collection is ‘Precious Fragments’ – a series of sixteen carefully crafted pieces which take us through a relationship break-up, reflecting the fragmentary nature of heartbreak with powerful imagery.

This is poetry which is not afraid to reveal the most personal, humiliating and painful of experiences, using language to transform this experience into something universal, with which we can all identify.

poet Rebecca Parfitt

Rebecca Parfitt reading from her collection for the first time at The Murenger in Newport

More Than You Were by Christina Thatcher, published by Parthian

Christina Thatcher’s poetry focuses on the shock, grief and mixed emotions which she has experienced since the death of her father in July 2013. He died of a drug overdose, and Christina has spent the last few years researching the impact of therapeutic writing on people who have lost loved ones to addiction, whilst working on this collection of her own poems.

Christina Thatcher reading at her launch event in Waterstones, Cardiff

Christina Thatcher reading at her launch event in Waterstones, Cardiff

The poetry is short, sharp and powerful in its simplicity, with lines such as these, in ‘Day One’:

“She calls you
Daddy – your death makes me a child again.
The phone is heavy, becomes heavier,
as I flick in and out of the conversation.
I think I must be practical, must listen,
must do things. But I don’t.
I just stay still as the room
moves in, slow and cool,
like molasses.”

She has become adept at describing the pain, numbness and loneliness of grief, from “wading through wet sand” to “a hole so big it could suck my life right out”.

But this book is not just about grief. It also explores the complexities of a father / daughter relationship which was far from perfect. There are childhood memories, including scenes of domestic violence and abuse, told with a real honesty which hits you in the gut. These are poems which zoom in on the details, revealing a moving story of love and loss.

My favourite poem in the collection is a poem of redemption, which shows the real man behind the mess of drugs. It describes the poet’s entrance into the music store near where her father had lived:

“When the man brought out the guitar,
I cried more than I ever have in public.
He said you came in every day
for two months before you chose
the perfect one, for me.”

This is a collection which you will do well to get through without shedding a tear. It is piercing and harsh at times, but it is also full of tenderness, acting as a reminder of our own frail humanity and the need to make the most of family relationships while there is still time.

Find out more or purchase the books here –

More Than You Were by Christina Thatcher is published by Parthian.

The Days After by Rebecca Parfitt is published by Listen Softly London.

Declaration: I received a free e-book version of The Days After from the publisher.