Max Dunbar in 3:am Magazine:
In the autumn of 2010 a beautiful, exasperating young woman appeared in Manchester: Sian Rathore. A singer-songwriter, critic and poet, her inventive approach to the spoken word made her a hit at the poetry nights there, and in terms of content her work eclipsed the more established mediocrities of that city. Sian is very much a poet of the digital age with a lively presence on Twitter, a plethora of blogs and tumblrs, an occasional column for the Huffington Post and a passion for something called ‘flarf poetry’ which I am too old to pretend to understand. So in Sian’s collection there is a poem about bereavement, called ‘She Sometimes Still Emails Him’ – where the narrator has just bought a smartphone and is messaging a dead friend, while still struggling to work out the keypad. (‘Youd; have really lvoed one/Apple make there own Phones now’). Another poem lists the bizarre search terms people have used to find Sian’s blog. The rhythms are like electronica and the locale is contemporary, abounds with references to Blackberry messaging, Spotify and Made in Chelsea. Yet the poetry comes from a traditional place. Sian is better read than most of her peers and her favourite book is Wuthering Heights.
Sian has a somewhat turbulent romantic life, suffers from bipolar disorder and, as a person, can be fairly scattershot and disorganised. So it’s always a double take when you read her stuff and realise quite how disciplined she is as a writer. Every word has been put on trial for its life. That discipline is coupled with a cold, caustic, Parker-style sense of humour. A few lines from her poem ‘The Last Stand of the World’s Most Famous Observational Comedian’, a satire on male dominated stand up, recall even Eliot at his most vitriolic:
The great observer overflows from the seat at the strip club
With white foam collecting at the corners of his mouth
Like small clouds precipitating the sweat on his upper lip
With one hand in his pocket and one between her breasts
Before she forces it back
God, it’s mad in’t it, this so-called ‘women’s lib’
The exotic dancer who had the recent abortion
Notices his failed erection
And sniggers with unsubtle laughter.