New Voices First Pamphlet Award winner 2021
Natalie won her Award in our New Voices competition in 2021. Her first collection, Cataclysm, published as a pamphlet by Frosted Fire, is now available for delivery from 20 September. Orders placed this month are post free.
Natalie is a finalist student in English and German at St John’s College, Oxford. She is a 2017 and 2018 winning and commended Foyle Young Poet and has won the Forward Student Critics’ Award, the Mapleton-Bree prize 2020 for work in the creative arts and the 2021 Martin Starkie Prize. She is Editor-in-Chief of The Isis Magazine, the longest-running student magazine in the UK. She is published or is forthcoming with bath magg, The White Review and Anthropocene, among others.
Reviews of Cataclysm
Reading Natalie Perman’s Cataclysm is a journey in itself. Formally dextrous and politically engaged, this pamphlet of poems will leave you pondering about the richness and mystery of the human mind, and how language has shaped our perception of others and our complex selves. Jennifer Wong
Cataclysm represents a new, startlingly originary voice, claiming its foothold with intensity, each crystallized vision in these poems so consummately, so stunningly rendered.
I hope to be reading this poet for the rest of my life. Shivanee Ramlochan
Perman’s poems of adolescence and burgeoning adulthood, of love, family and Jewish identity are conveyed in poems of exceptional range and innovation. These are the poems of someone born to write. Leeanne Quinn
Unwavering and unsettling, this is poetry that hits you at speed and refuses to let you go . . . this powerful, flexing collection deserves to be read and reread. Ben Ray
Cataclysm is a compelling debut, which introduces a fresh and bold new voice, full of originality and verve. Deryn Rees-Jones
Review from the awarding judge
David Clarke, lead judge for the New Voices competition, explains why Cataclysm‘s award was well-deserved:
Natalie Perman’s poetic voice appears fully formed in her debut pamphlet Cataclysm. These poems are shot through with an energy and urgency that speaks to the subject matter of her poems. Here the poet explores the many dimensions of personal identity and the forces that shape it, addressing a Jewish heritage characterized by experiences of dislocation. This is work of high drama, which can mine the apparently most mundane of occurrences (a school disco or a spelling competition) to reveal the hidden power dynamics and their emotional costs, while still maintaining a coolly observant eye and a keen sense of the absurd.
Poems from Cataclysm
The Poem in the Locket
Winner of the ‘Bloodaxe Archive Challenge #1’ on Young Poets Network
After ‘The Photo in the Locket (For Louise)’ by Jackie Kay
There are things I don’t tell her
private things, words eaten
in sleeping bookshelves,
a waitress watering plastic flowers.
My new friends speak fast
write less often; they come over
and strip the sheets, leave the house
bare. We smile and eat alone
rushing through stages of life
in torpor. In a film they carried
powdered sugar in urns like ashes `
and I stopped having sugar cubes.
Once I bought an egg that was not
all yolk; I cried in the laundry machine.
I’m ashamed I haven’t kept this.
I dream of dressing moments up absurdly
in silk and crimson; but I search in circles
for the bus and keep missing it. I want
to show hummingbirds flickering in and out
of view sipping sweet sugar-water and swooning
not when I ran into shallow water and was
submerged. Not even the clouds rippled.
I want to have some physical remembrance;
a black and white orange carved
the shape of my grandmother
an ode to my grandfather’s depression
his rage engraved in a cherry pit.
I forget things. Sometimes I see
the steps to the old house shining
like a clavicle, green buzzing like
In the locket I’m in the waiting room again.
It smells of instant coffee and printer
paper and the stairs keep stretching further
upwards. The doctor congratulates me
on my recovery and the stairs. The room
only has two walls. He’s trying to release me
but the file has been
forgotten, the papers
i The Disappearing Act
performed to mediocre success/not a scatter of applause but/the groan of a classroom losing one more/the desk had a line of sweat/where your hands had been/zipper-down pants on the carpet/like being half-naked in a dream/we folded the cardboard chairs/into suitcases of worn leather/piled Oxfam tokens/into lockers and ringbinders/and found the badge from when you volunteered/at the local museum/collecting mould at the water fountains/dripping slowly into paper cups/if your life was a movie it was an indie production/spending far over budget/Marvel or Disney or Pixar/sponsoring an empty space.
ii Writing the Poem
A rabbit comes out of a word and onto the table.
It jumps inside the kettle.
You do not want it to drown.
You push your hand inside, your foot, your head first
You burn your eyelashes.
You are in a lake, black like a feather or something forgiven
The water is soft and thin as if it could be torn apart
You can’t remember if you know how to swim.
Please complete your order for Cataclysm here
Orders placed by September 30 are post free in the UK,
reduced postage elsewhere.