Karen McCarthy Woolf came to prominence in 2014 with the publication of her first full poetry collection An Aviary of Small Birds, an elegy for her still born son. Selecting the book as a Guardian book of the month, Kate Kellaway said it was “a beautiful, painful, pitch-perfect debut.”

It went on to be a finalist for both the Forward and Aldeburgh Best First Collection prizes in 2015 and was a Poetry Book Society Choice. The book is a visceral evocation of loss, grief and dislocation, refracted through surprising lenses and poetic innovations, and rendered in poetry that is simultaneously elegant, highly distilled, direct and heartfelt. The subject matter might have been searing to explore but McCarthy Woolf is resolutely unsentimental in this infinitesimally detailed examination of the components that make up heartache