Jo Brandon was born in Essex in 1986 and raised in rural Lincolnshire. She graduated with a degree in Creative Writing from Bretton Hall, University of Leeds in 2007. Between 2008 and 2011 Jo was an editor of the literary e-zine Cadaverine, and her poetry has featured in various publications including Poetry Review, Magma, Aesthetica, Dream Catcher and Cake.
Jo’s debut pamphlet, Phobia, was published by Valley Press in 2012. Her first full-length collection, The Learned Goose, followed in November 2015.
The 'learned goose' was a touring sensation in the 18th century: a goose that could predict the future, tell the time and read you like a book. Confronted with such a spectacle, a crowd's reactions would be a mixture of hope and cynicism, suspicion and wonderment, with a healthy dose of knowing wit and humour thrown in for good measure.
Jo Brandon's first full-length collection of poetry, named after the infamous goose, argues that these are the ideal attitudes to take when viewing our world – both as it is, and as it was. From the garden of Eden to the summer of '56, from the courts of Ancient Greece to those of 19th-century Britain, each poem places the reader somewhere unexpected, and proceeds to show them wonders; with unrelenting perceptiveness, empathy and intelligence. A must-read volume for all fans of contemporary poetry.
“Picture the masked reveller at the start of the ball, not knowing what adventures or catastrophes the long night will bring. This is the world of The Learned Goose, whose poet slips on fancy dress the better to disguise her investigations into matters of the heart, those both personal and historical ... a smart and sumptuous first collection.”
– Julia Bird
“There is something of the fairground sideshow about this delicious cornucopia of twisted tales where the lustful, lovely and grotesque gather together to intrigue and disquiet us with their stories. Here is a collection that leaps across time and space, between the domestic and mythical, with a fearless and lyrical grace.”
– Jacqueline Saphra
“A bewitching collection containing the sensual and the witty, the sacred and profane, and glorious language with profound psychological insight. Jo Brandon is a very fine writer indeed.”
– James Nash
Paperback currently out of print.
Phobia was the first solo publication from Jo Brandon, who poured years of study, contemplation and poetic endeavour into her pamphlet-length debut.
The poems are skillful examinations of fear and hope, vulnerability and strength, nature and industry; and particularly what it means to be a female in the 21st century, with ancestors peering over your shoulder and contemporaries urging you forward. Experimenting with form and language throughout, whilst never compromising on emotional impact and intrigue, this is a book to delight on first reading, and return to year after year.
“I like Jo’s sharp observational eye ... whole worlds and lives are conjured in the spare but overflowing stories of poems like 'These Bones' and 'Kathy, GSOH, likes long walks'. These poems of vulnerability are brave, bright and true, and mark Brandon as a poet to watch.”
— Kate Fox
“Brandon shape-shifts between subject and observer, illuminating and enlightening. These are crafted, intelligent, challenging poems, revelling in an imagistic sensuality, a passion for detail and narrative discovery.”
— Rommi Smith
“Brandon has the gift of making one stop and think ... light-hearted and sparse with her language, but also eloquent and serious, with a quiet beauty to her words. A thought-provoking collection.”
— Ciara Hegarty
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