Three months after she gave birth for the first time, Jenny Pagdin’s life was pummelled by sudden postnatal psychosis – ‘and still it rained down, crosshatching the sky’. This intimate, sharp debut pamphlet charts the triggers, the illness and the first shoots of recovery. These are poems from the other side: of sanity, of hope, of motherhood. In this unflinching and confessional record where desperation intertwines with measure, the poetry is in the details – be that the hospital TV which can’t be switched off, or the scratchings of a child’s picture. Pagdin’s fragmented narrative, broken into a number of forms, offers unmissable insight into a shattering mental illness.
Born in High Wycombe, 1979, into a British Lebanese family, Jenny Pagdin took a BA in English at Oxford University and an MA Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. She lives with her husband and son in Norfolk where she works as a charity fundraiser. A few months after giving birth, Pagdin developed a severe form of mental illness, postnatal psychosis, which informed her first pamphlet Caldbeck, shortlisted for the Mslexia pamphlet competition (2017). Her work has appeared in Iota, Agenda Broadsheet, Nth Position, The Frogmore Papers and Dream Catcher.
It was a pleasure to read the poems in Jenny Pagdin’s debut pamphlet. Written with tact and assurance, they deal with issues of mental health – stark and painful – with which all of us might have to deal, although rarely are they faced with this level of clarity and honesty. Informed by the author’s readings of AngloSaxon, the poems are crisp and etymologically aware. The pressures of adult existence, and the huge weight of parental responsibility in particular, are recorded with a rueful shrewdness. After reading these inward, psychologically acute poems, the reader is likely to be haunted for some time --John Redmond