16th Apr 14
© Anne-Sophie Olive
e-mail Jemma Borg
and in the shop…
“The illuminated world”
Jemma Borg was born in Essex. She took a first in zoology at Oxford, where she also completed a doctorate in evolutionary genetics. She has worked as a science editor and writer, research administrator in the charity sector, environmental campaigner and teacher, and has lived and worked in places including Australia, Pakistan and Hong Kong. Her poems have been widely published in magazines including Poetry Review, Poetry London and Stand, and in anthologies including I am twenty people! (Enitharmon, 2007), Oxford Poets Anthology 2007 (Oxford Poets/Carcanet, 2007), Lung Jazz: Young British Poets for Oxfam (Eyewear/Cinnamon 2012) and The Poets’ Quest for God (Eyewear, 2014). She has received prizes, or been shortlisted, in competitions including the Kent and Sussex Open Poetry Competition, the Bridport, Mslexia Poetry Competition, Smith/Doorstop Pamphlet Competition and the Jane Martin Poetry Prize. She won the New Writing Ventures Award for Poetry in 2007 and was mentored by Don Paterson, and was a resident at the Leighton Artists’ Colony at the Banff Centre in Canada in 2009. Her first collection, The illuminated world, is due from Eyewear in Autumn 2014. She currently lives in East Sussex with her husband and young son.
Advance review comments for The illuminated world:
There is no doubt in my mind this is the real thing, a breath-taking collection. Jemma Borg hunts down ideas like there’s no tomorrow, with all the power of a ruthless concentration. This is an active, passionate and mature mind at work. She eagerly and obstinately presses on in the face of so much we don’t know, determined not to be overwhelmed by our (human) ignorance. Her work – cool and concentrated – demonstrates a rare combination of intellectual rigor coupled with an innate sense of what a poem is and feels like ... She leads us down the mysterious pathways of a mind triumphantly enjoying becoming aware of itself. Ambitious, stubborn, ruthless, incorruptible – what more could one ask of a first collection? Nothing if not ambitious, Jemma Borg is a poet to watch and wonder at. This is a tough intellect – sure to hang on in there and go from strength to strength. It’s hard to believe this is a debut collection.
The range, across space and different habitats on earth, is striking and impressive. These poems exhibit an extremely attractive way of regarding the world, and are not afraid to be aesthetic and metaphysical, replete with myths and jewels.
To say that Jemma Borg’s background as a scientist rings clearly in her poems makes them sound dry – they are anything but. It is simply that to language and imagery she brings a scientist’s precision and care: this, in combination with an artist’s heart, is rare. These varied and emotive poems display a keen interest in human responses and an individual’s reaction to a complex world.
Erica Wagner, literary editor of The Times