You can purchase my second collection Nothing serious, nothing dangerous from Indigo Dreams Publishing. Below is the testimonial by the poet Lawrence Sail. He has several collections with Bloodaxe. Impress Books published Sift, memories of childhood.
“The strength of Fokkina McDonnell’s airy and enjoyable second collection lies in her command of an idiom sufficiently fluid and flexible for her to explore widely without any sense of strain: and her awareness of the ambiguities of language can accommodate the mildly surreal as easily as the acutely observed and felt. She weaves a pattern of recurring threads – family and other relationships, a feeling for the natural world (a whole aviary, the sea, land creatures, a cornucopia of fruit) and locations from East Anglia and Manchester to Holland and China go alongside a keen appreciation of artists, with paintings triggering a number of the poems. Hers is a voice of light tones, but also measured utterance: gratifyingly, the result is greater than the sum of its parts.”
The striking cover painting is The Departure by the late artist Graham Kingsley Brown.
My debut collection Another Life was published in 2016. Purchase it at Oversteps Books.
Noel Williams, the Review Editor of Orbis published a positive review in # 178, Winter 2016 under the heading A deep cupboard in a dark room.
“As with many debuts, this is somewhat eclectic, representing the best of the poet’s work as she develops her voice. Consequently, there is a variety of forays in different directions, each leading to different pleasures for the reader.” […] “Wit and sideways glances work well with quirky subjects or unusual prompts. The poet can be happily surreal – the enjoyable list poem Things I want you to bring when you next visit moves from the concrete detail of Three or four bags of liquorice to the impossibilities of the silhouette of a village church; / and the wide, sandy, shell-scattered beach. In other examples there’s a dislocation of viewpoint which leads to unexpected insight or imagery: Canteen: I am a table spoon. The knives are to my left. Conversely, many pieces apparently come from direct experience. As a psychotherapist, it is not a surprise that she peers under layers of a persona, particularly in writing which reflects on her family. The opening poem almost makes this explicit: and pain starts when sounds die (The Vienna of Sigmund Freud) which identifies a core characteristic: McDonnell’s wish for more to be intended than is said. Many of the pieces do not explain themselves (and those that do are hence perhaps less interesting). Their surface pleasures seem to suggest a further significance which can only be guessed at; a meaning hidden in a secret chamber which may turn out to be a different revelation for different readers. Separation is powerful because its nine lines of tight imagery do not explain themselves, beyond the title. Or Eel, which seems concretely imagined from within the consciousness of an eel, and yet throughout, feels as if it is actually about something else: Today the sand is warm. / I’m safe in my skin. The simplicity of these poems belies their subtlety. It’s a collection written with an intelligence that’s wicked, weird and insightful.”
The Journal #51 includes a short, positive review by Andy Hickmott: “Fokkina McDonnell has, like me, made Manchester her home and we occasionally meet, but this is the first time I have read her poems – and I declare myself impressed. The poems betray her professional interest in psychotherapy (the opening poem is titled The Vienna of Sigmund Freud). By the third poem we read These are the known facts: all of us keep / a black bear in a cage. Or black dogs on a lead (Facts). Other poems exhibit subtlety and insight, like this instance of an object evoking memories (from Separation): A button has memories / of the coat it came from: / how blue wool smells in rain. [..] On the whole this is a very fine collection of thoughtful poems.”
In Spring 2020 a pamphlet A Stolen Hour will be published by Grey Hen Press.
I also have poems in a number of recent anthologies. Paper Swans Press published Best of British, An anthology of poems about Great Britain (2017) and The Pocket Poetry Book of Love (2018). The Valley Press Anthology of Yorkshire Poetry was published in 2017. Ek Zuban published Building Bridges: An International Anthology of Ekphrasis (2017). Our Beating Heart, HNS 70 was published by erbacce press in 2018. The anthology Gazing at Gaia was produced by the Manchester Buddhist Centre (2017). Grey Hen Press published Songs for the Unsung in 2017 and Out of Context, an anthology of ‘found’ poems in 2019. Indigo Dreams published For The Silent, an anthology to aid the work of the League Against Cruel Sports (2019).