On Stage

“If you ever get a chance to see her perform live, grab it…she’s wicked”
Jane Holland (poet).

“Emma Purshouse has got talent and a rare sympathy for those on the edge”
Simon Fletcher (former Literature Development Officer, Wolverhampton Libraries and manager at Offa’s Press).

“We had a fabulous evening with Jane, Emma and Win – it was brilliant!”
Jill Bright, Dudley Libraries – Funny Women performance.

“Tremendous performance at Buzzwords in Cheltenham on Sunday, Emma! The Comma butterfly poem is a classic. Hope to hear you again soon!”
Alison Brackenbury (poet).

“Emma soon had the audience in the palm of her hand with her poetry performance.”
review City Voices, Stoke-on-Trent.

“Emma Purshouse is a very clever performer whose acting and characterisation skills wonderfully flesh out her material. Her talent is in taking the most mundane situations and bringing them alive. ‘Nubbs’ tells of an ex-boyfriend’s obsessive pursuit of discarded cigarette butts. Only Emma could take on the character of a fruit machine, complete with Mexican voice and tell a hilarious tale of the thoughts of the machine as it encounters punters in the lounge bar.”
Gary Longden – Behind the Arras

“Emma’s Poems had me in stitches and laughter”
Audience member – Funny Women

“Following two poet laureates would be a big ask for many poets. Emma Purshouse, was undaunted. A whirlwind of wit and humour, she started her set with a comic poem about a partner who forgot Valentine’s Day and was split like kindling for his pains, followed that up with a piece about a young mother in a failing relationship (“I think I forgot how to smile…”), and finished her set with her contribution to the Ten Letters project, where ten poets were each asked to write a poem to Birmingham.

“Does it have to be positive?” she asked.


“I’m in.”

Her poem, from the Black Country to its old friend Brummagem (who’s gone up in the world and is maybe just a tiny bit above itself) was magnificent, and one you should catch if you can: “I’d like to say it’s me not you / but it ay.” It ended with the dismissive and defiant “I don’t like to brag / but I’ve got my own flag.”
Steve Pottinger – Write Out Loud

On the Page

“This book is a breath of fresh air, charged with a kind of comic verve, heavily grounded in Black Country culture. It collects pieces that work brilliantly on the page, and which brim with surrealism, wit, and an assured grasp of the vernacular. There are mermaids on buses, conversations between canals, lazy cats, and nosey neighbours, in a collection that is often laugh out loud funny. But for all the comedy, there is also a deep understanding of the region, and the emotional life that exists beneath the banter, witnessed brilliantly in poems like The Flamingos at Dudley Zoo, where the birds clipped wings become a metaphor
for the constraints imposed on youth, or the Budgie Man at 8a, sharpening his beak on the ‘cuttlefish of his day’.
Judges for the Rubery Book Award 2019, review of ‘Close’

“There are laugh-out-loud poems such as ‘Glut reaction’ – “She’s coming! She’s bringing courgettes”, poignant offerings such as ‘Have you thought about a name?’, and poems where jokey and clever wordplay is mixed with more profound truths, such as in ‘When he left’.”
Greg Freeman, Write Out Loud, review of ‘Close’

“Emma Purshouse, a freelance writer and performance poet, is also a descendant of a nail-maker.  Several poems reveal her irrepressible sense of Black Country humour, some of which make use of dialect, while others explore the region’s industrial past in a variety of poetic formats which are at once appealing and relevant to the subject under scrutiny.

The first half of the sonnet entitled ‘Emmie and Arthur’s Honeymoon, June 7th 1931’ will give readers an insight into her special brand of humour:

The earth really did move for them
in that B&B in Bewdley.
6.1 on the Richter scale,
the bedroom positively rocked.
Elsewhere, chimneys tumbled
and Doctor Crippen’s head fell off
at Madame Tussauds in London.

Her stylistic range is impressive: some, such as the poem about Bilston and Battersea Enamel Seconds, make use of anaphora – the deliberate repetition of a word or a phrase for a specific effect – to highlight the mechanical nature of stultifying work. In another poem, ‘Things I Learned from my Maternal Grandfather’,  lists are used to create a cumulative effect of knowledge and discovery that is both serious and diverting.

In ‘Star Taxis – Captain’s Log, 10pm to 6am’, Purshouse uses the name of the taxi firm as an invitation to embroider the poem with space imagery to good effect. In the experimental poem, ‘Only Child’, she gives us a visual image of the trajectory of the tennis ball from the moment it leaves the child’s racket to the moment it hits the house wall by positioning the poem in a long thin line down the centre of the page. The final poem in this section, ‘Then and Now’, offers a pleasing symmetry of ideas and line lengths in the two stanzas that serve to link the past with the present.”
Neil Leadbeater, Write Out Loud

“Emma Purshouse is the most adventurous in form and adds a touch of humour as well. The most unusual (which works admirably!) is Only Child which is a column of single words and split words straight down the page with a twist/pun at the end. Emma also draws more strongly on the dialect and dialect words, perhaps more than her two colleagues: bibble, glede, ganzy, oss, doh. Her four poems on her grandparents are both amusing and sharp.

What did she learn from her paternal grand- mother?

always leave your hat on
when you babysit.

Emma’s poems on Black Country industry are also to the point but more current is Star Taxis — Captain’s Log in which the telephonist at ‘base’ imagines herself, well, elsewhere:

bringing back
the bingo babes
from planet Mecca
in the faraway galaxy
of Wednesbury.

Martin Underwood, Cannon’s Mouth

“Lots of wonderful imaginative and outrageous poems in this collection which is full of the charms and idiosyncrasies of childhood. It’s easy to see how children could love these breezy poems and become attached to them. One could easily imagine them being learnt by heart and repeated in playgrounds. The illustrations by Catherine Pascall-Moore are quirky and appropriate. The hints about, for example, the best way to learn a poem or how to speak a poem aloud, are unusual in a book of this sort and never patronising.”
The Judges of the Rubery Book Award.

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