- Published: 03/08/2023
- ISBN: 9781915051066
- Granta Books
- 112 pages
We Play Here
We Play Here is a collection of four poem-stories, taking place in an underdeveloped area of Protestant North Belfast in the summer of 1988, against a background of political turbulence during the Troubles. Written from the perspectives of four female friends in the months between finishing primary school and starting high school, the girls inhabit an eerie, elemental landscape of normalised violence, poverty and neglect.
This is a lyrical and graceful evocation of working-class girlhood that rings of Elena Ferrante’s studies of female friendships in the Neapolitan novels, Didier Eribon’s Returning to Reims, and Annie Ernaux’s The Years. It is a radical approach to girlhood and girl-friendships, the kind of skewered space before an imposition of gender, or before the trappings of gender make themselves strongly known. Innocence is tinged here with a kind of hidden menace.
An extraordinary, enviably great debut. Watson has that rare ability to capture the ever-present strangeness of childhood and to use that to let us into a specific history with intellectual and imaginative generosity. There is taut, lyrical focus on every page, but overall, a game-changing narrative long poem you'll want to keep close.
Dawn Watson on Granta.com
Poetry | Granta 158
The Starlings of Dunmore Died on the Eleventh of July
‘Black was thrown / in all directions.’