Ramona Herdman is a poet who lives in Norwich.
Her pamphlet of poems about lust, love and sexual politics ‘A warm and snouting thing‘ was published by The Emma Press in September 2019. You can read a few poems from it on The Emma Press website and reviews of it on the Sphinx Review, London Grip and Sabotage Review websites.
It was shortlisted in the poetry category of the East Anglian Book Awards 2020.
Ramona Herdman’s ‘A Warm and Snouting Thing’ (The Emma Press, £6.50) is also good on carnal desire and delight, as well as the sexual politics, hazards and humiliations that have a habit of accompanying them. Gloriously unbuttoned about lots of things – ferns, armpit hair, eyebrows or cigarettes, and indeed the way buttons can be “luscious as sex” – Herdman’s verse and voice confront the reader with a rare, unapologetic gusto. (William Wootten, The Times Literary Supplement, 11th December 2020)
‘A Warm and Snouting Thing’ is by turns funny, sad, mildly self-absorbed and self-criticising. The title comes from a poem called ‘There is a thing’, which does a good job of summing up her endearing, vulnerable, strong-willed aesthetic […] Herdman is a poet who really notices things, and whose poems display an infectious zeal for life. […] her writing is limpid and memorable. (Rory Waterman, PN Review 252)
Ramona Herdman’s pamphlet, ‘A Warm and Snouting Thing’ is exactly what the title suggests. Her opening poem ‘He sits slightly too close and we don’t look at each other’, I almost committed to my day-book, it was so pleasingly done. it’s about sex, don’t you know, or rather pre-sex, or rather the curious gorgeousness of the possibility of sexual attraction. Damnit, I can’t quite say what it is about because it is a poem that occupies perfectly its own world. […] These are poems that are a genuine pleasure to read, with or without dark subtext. There is a lightness of touch so that there is always something to enjoy. (Jonathan Davidson, Under the Radar 25)
Her pamphlet ‘Bottle’ was published by HappenStance Press. It is now sold out, but the final few copies can be bought directly from Ramona at readings. It is the Poetry Book Society Spring 2018 Pamphlet Choice and is one of The Poetry School’s ‘Books of the Year 2017’. You can read short reviews of it here, here and here.
‘Bottle’ is full of transformations, giddy disappearing acts, longing and remorse. It’s a compassionate, searching collection of poems, every moment handled with precision – the ‘reliable magic’ of a first drink, the ‘gluey-gold’ of brandy and – most of all – the danger of ‘saying something risky and being understood’. (Helen Mort)
In ‘Bottle’, Ramona Herdman presents a clear-eyed account of alcoholism: its snares, its siren calls, its abject downfalls. It is a moving testimony to a long struggle, and a journey towards a tentative reconciliation with a father-figure who suffered from the same condition. [. . . ] Among the moving poems to her father, she describes the desire to “reach through his ribs / and pull out the bloody trouble, treacle / mucus”, in a similar act of miraculous salvation. [. . .] These poems are testament to Herdman’s openness and courage. (A.B. Jackson, Poetry Book Society Bulletin, Spring 2018)
Bleak without being maudlin, and funny without being flippant, Bottle is a courageous and despairing guide to addiction, inheritance, infidelity and desire – all viewed through the bottom of a whisky glass. Alcohol skulks half-seen in the background of so many poems – and indeed poets – but it’s rare to see the demon drink take centre stage in such a sustained and serious way. (Poetry School Books of the Year, 2017)
Delighted to see that ‘Bottle’ is a PBS Pamphlet Choice! It is a compelling collection, and you read from it so well at Poetry in Aldeburgh! A very good choice… (Alison Brackenbury)
There are so many standout poems it’s tricky to select just a few. There’s much to enjoy in ‘Yes’ which contains both sly humour and sexiness, a trademark of Herdman’s poetry. An off-licence employee is described as ‘not beautiful’, but a tempter all the same with his cheap bottle of pink fizz, ‘so yes, I will run away with you/at least as far/as the bins round the back/with the rest of the bottle.’ […] The varied poetic forms and attention to pacing are a masterclass in how a pamphlet should be put together. I urge you to read this, to learn more about temptation, love, chance and familial affection and, above all, to join this cast of finely drawn drinkers, albeit temporarily, perhaps even soberly, in their colourful and wholly engaging world. (Sue Burge, Ink, Sweat & Tears)
A facile interpretation of ‘Bottle’ would be to conclude that its theme is the demon drink. In fact, this pamphlet uses alcohol as a point of departure and reference, exploring the effects of that aforementioned concave mirror on Herdman’s life and on the lives of those around her. [. . .] These brief snippets from Bottle are intended to serve as a taster of its rich layers, of the delicate craft and art that lie just beneath its surface, of the contradictions that are inherent in our relationship with alcohol. Like all top-notch poetry, it leads us back to a fresh reflection on our own experiences. (Matthew Stewart, Rogue Strands)
Her first collection, ‘Come what you wished for’ was published by Egg Box in 2003 and is now out of print.
She tweets @ramonaherdman