‘Through which openings does someone enter when they control the life of another? How do you push that harm back out, and first reclaim, then love, your own attacked self? Beautiful, poised, and unflinching, Matches tracks one woman’s encounter with domestic abuse and violence. Written with “the sharp end of a question mark”, it also records the path she created to free herself from a world where every move is set up to be the wrong one. A light out of darkness for many, and a place of learning for all of us, these are poems to honour and cherish.’ – Alice Hiller
‘Poetic language, at its best, makes the strange familiar, the familiar strange. These poems go further by giving language to estrangement. Gander makes a devastating articulation of the violence done to women who see themselves solely and cruelly through the eyes of another. The daily losses of power in a clarity that is astonishingly brave, of which we almost never speak—the unspeakable remittance of selfhood that women suffer. What these poems make possible is the rarest chance for healing; I feel changed, alive, compelled by her courage.’ – Sandeep Parmar
‘Matches holds its fierce and sudden light close to us, revealing the hidden world of domestic violence. Inch by inch, Catherine Gander explores the anatomy of abuse, allowing the reader to inhabit the darkest and loneliest of places with her. Through deftly woven images and brilliant sequences, we witness how a woman can be taken apart: this is echoed in how poems are dismantled before our eyes – deranged villanelles, poems written backwards, poems crouching in corners all demand to have their stories told. Although much is bruised, cracked, still tender to the touch within these pages, there is strength and wisdom in each astonishing phrase, “blazing cometary/ like the flaring of a match.’ – Olga Dermott-Bond
‘Matches is a profound act of witness. It testifies to the chilling realities of intimate partner abuse, failed escape-routes and quiet, everyday attempts at survival. Gander is a fearless voice, skilfully crafting and elevating wounded experience out of a hidden place into a new home lit by language. How grateful I am that such a poet exists, persisting against silence, insisting upon difficult truths. Here is a book, like a sharp balm, that stings, calms, and transforms.’ – Annemarie Ní Churreáin
‘Gander’s poems are the paradox in action. The smart woman. The woman who knows, who alludes to foundations of language and civilisation. The woman who speaks. Lives. Yet. Is abused. No explicatio. No reason. Anyway, any such foundations are well maggot-riddled by now. So poetry, the made thing, hers, here. For you.’ – Kimberly Campanello
Matches is Catherine Gander’s debut pamphlet.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Catherine Gander was born in England and now lives in Ireland. Her poetry has appeared in numerous places, including Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry London, On the Seawall, Palette, and Firmament, and she is the co-author of the poetry pamphlet Sea Between Us (Nine Pens Press, 2022, with Georgia Hilton and Anna Kisby). An academic and critic, Catherine is co-founder of the Poetry & Poetics series with Karl O’Hanlon at Maynooth University and has won awards from the Irish Research Council and the Irish Writers’ Centre to work on diversity and mentorship programmes in poetry criticism, and to develop her own writing. Her academic books include Muriel Rukeyser and Documentary: The Poetics of Connection (Edinburgh UP, 2013), Mixed Messages: American Correspondences in Visual and Verbal Practices (Manchester UP), and the Edinburgh Companion to Don DeLillo and the Arts (Edinburgh UP, 2023).