REVIEW: Heathcliff Adrift by Benjamin Myers

Published by: New Writing North
Out Now
More information on Benjamin Myers’ website

REVIEW by: Matilda Neill

heathcliffHeathcliff Adrift is a collection of poems by Benjamin Myers, commissioned by New Writing North for the Durham Book Festival. The collection elaborates on the time Emily Bronte’s infamous character Heathcliff spent alone after being banished from Wuthering Heights. It brings to life that section of the narrative, not answering the question of his whereabouts but exploring in depth the thoughts and feelings that raged in his head during that time.

Remaining true to the themes that are present in Wuthering Heights, Myers, through  Heathcliff’s narrative, discusses loss, love, prejudice and inequality, questioning Heathcliff’s mistreatment in the hands of the Earnshaws and Lintons but using imagery and language that demonstrates his dark and savage nature too.

The stream of conscience style that the poems appear in  perfectly captures Heathcliff’s tormented mind and his struggles with solitude. His love for Cathy overshadows every poem and my favourite poem from the collection, ‘Her,’ compares the ceaseless nature of the rain, the troubles and misery it inflicts yet also its necessity and fertile power, to his love for Cathy, a love the rain “never allows him to forget.”

The gothic genre is very much incorporated into this collection. Myers cleverly uses violent imagery of the “cold brass comforts” that Heathcliff both loves and fears to create their animalistic behaviour, the hurt they bestow upon one another yet the never failing love between Heathcliff and his childhood companion.

Heathcliff Adrift is a beautiful collection of poems, lovingly crafted using inspiration from one of my favourite books. Its insight and deepened exploration into of one of literature’s  most conflicting characters is a real treasure to behold and I couldn’t help but mirror his chaotic mood swings as each poem presents an entirely new, entirely different perspective and tone.

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