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The Learned Goose

by Jo Brandon

‘If he lays you an egg – well, that’s a miracle.’

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


Jo Brandon was born in Essex in 1986 and is now based in West Yorkshire. Her working life has been varied, including roles as a domestic for the Royal Household, a tour guide, Creative Writing Coordinator for the Koestler Trust and an administrator for the Poetry Society and Poetry School.

Jo graduated with a degree in Creative Writing from Bretton Hall, University of Leeds in 2007. She now works as a freelance poetry editor, librettist and literary events host. In 2018 she was Bradford Literature Festival’s first Digital Poet in Residence. Her poetry is widely published in magazines and anthologies including The North, Poetry Review, Butcher’s Dog, Magma, Popshot and Brittle Star.

Jo’s debut pamphlet of poetry, Phobia, was published by Valley Press in 2012. Her first full-length collection, The Learned Goose, followed in 2015, and a second, Cures, in January 2021.


Edition: Paperback

Date Published: 2015-11-30

ISBN: 9781908853554

Catalogue Number: VP0077

Number of Pages: 64

Cover design by Jamie McGarry

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