Pray for Us Sinners
Book type: Poetry Collection
Published: 28 Sep 2005
Like the free spirits she champions, Joolz Denby’s poems dazzle us with their bold flourishes and headstrong gestures. Untamed, and previously unsung, her heroes and heroines are all cast from the wrong side of town or the wrong side of history. Given voice by Joolz’s pen, each takes their 15 minutes of forever the only way they can - defiantly and by cutting loose.
The whirlwind of words that is Denby’s fifth collection builds legends within legends, retells myths and casts new ones where you least expect them. Characters like the thrill-seeker ‘Two Lanes’ dashing through motorway traffic, or Chicken Boy, hiding his shame in the dark, are fleshed out alongside characters from Beowulf, naval explorers, and new renderings of the Mother Mary. Elsewhere we get classic anthems against cynicism like 'Boy, You Need the Road', entreating us to fight doubt and trust our own recklessness.
Pray for Us Sinners marks an eagerly awaited return to verse for the Orange Prize shortlisted author and, as the title suggests, we see a new, more reflective tone in her work - unravelling new interests in her personal history and the mythology and morphology of goddess stories - as well as celebrating what Joolz has always known best: the wilderness within.
"I had a terrific time with Pray For Us Sinners. Poems, stories, prose poems and storytelling in poetry, Joolz Denby does it all with the same sense of perfect pitch. Her rhythms are compelling, her language has a nineteenth-century romanticism and vibrant sensuality - and yet JD's writing has none of the languid floppiness of Tennyson or Byron It's robust, visceral, heartfelt, exciting. Much of it has echoes of the Mabinogion or the Voluspa; there is the same freshness, the same energy and delight in language, the same blood and guts and heart - whether the story is set in Anglo-Saxon times or in Bradford on a wet Friday night. Which goes to prove that stories are eternal - at least in the hands of such a fine storyteller as this. I loved it. Great stuff." - Joanna Harris
"With words perfectly placed, and spaces perfectly shaped, this poetry lives and breathes as if created by a higher being.... These poems are so well observed you could keep them in your photo album." - Benjamin Zephaniah
"Joolz’s poems mark her out as distinctly as any tattoo or piercing - as a woman of great strength and conviction, of compassion and heart. She’s a gem." - Billy Bragg