A Blood Condition tells a story of inheritance - the people, places, cultures and memories that form us. Kayo Chingonyi explores how distance and time, nations and a century's history, can collapse within a body; our past continuous in our present. From London, Leeds, and The North East to the banks of the Zambezi river, these poems consider change and permanence, grief and joy, the painful ongoing process of letting go, with remarkable music and clarity.
"Kayo Chingonyi’s second collection, A Blood Condition, takes its title from an unnamed illness that claimed the lives of his parents when he was a young adult. A deep thread of loss runs through these poems, and an attempt to reintegrate a past that spans Zambia, Newcastle and London. In “Hyem”, we learn of the young poet’s Geordie speech being interpreted as “demotic Bemba” in Zambia. “Postcard from the Sholebrokes” addresses another Newcastle poet, Tony Harrison, and “The last night of my 20s” is an affecting elegy for the Scottish poet Roddy Lumsden. “Origin Myth” is a skilful series of seven linked sonnets on the legacies of illness and bereavement; “Acquaintance with the night has its uses”, Chingonyi writes, echoing Robert Frost’s “I have been one acquainted with the night”. These fine poems weigh their sorrows carefully, reminding us how best we might “carry a well of myth / in the pit of our pith”. The Guardian roundup of the best new poetry.