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Former President of the Suffolk Poetry Society, James Knox Whittet's blurb of The Undertow:

In Emily Bilman’s The Undertow, the reader is taken on an infinite voyage through memories of love and loss. Gustave Flaubert wrote: Only three things are infinite. The sky in its stars, the sea in its drops of water, and the heart in its tears. To be caught up in the powerful, under-currents of the sea is to be driven further and deeper than one might feel comfortable. Similarly, to delve into the depths of oneself is to risk going beyond what the conscious mind can bear and control. There is no knowing what one might find in the depths of one’s being. We are told that life first began in the sea and perhaps we have imbibed its conflicts, its darkness shot through with sudden gleams of light like the glow of precious pearls. In the poem entitled Challenger, named after an engine which explores the ocean depths, we read:


In these ice-waters, all sea-creatures

Are liquified but, on a layer above,

Lantern-fish gleam to prey, mate,

And maintain the primaeval breath

Of silence. Buried in tenebrous

Shadows matter aggregated

And darkness was abraded by light.


Although the sea has the power to destroy and take away loved ones, leaving deep grief in its wake, it also has the power to heal. In The Undertow, there are many references to literary works and myths of the ancient Greeks who believed in the mysterious power of the sea to cleanse humans of their impurity in mind and body. In our age of pollution, the sea itself needs to be purified, too. In the words of Euripides: The sea can wash away all the ills of man. The Undertow explores the conflicting duality of the sea in depth.


As with so many poets throughout the past five centuries and beyond, Emily Bilman has found that the sonnet form has the power to distil the deepest human experiences. Many of the poems in this book are sonnets alternating between the Petrarchan and the Shakespearean traditions. The sonnets reflect the poet’s feelings and moods that are variable as the sea. The small box of the sonnet becomes a stage in which the inner conflicts arising out of life and love are dramatised and resolved. To read The Undertow is to undertake an exhilarating poetic voyage and discover the poet’s quest for light.



Professor Emeritus Paul Mendes-Flohr's appreciation of "Apperception", published in September 2020. 

Dorothy Grant Maclear Professor Emeritus, Divinity School, The University of Chicago

Professor Emeritus, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

I read Apperception three times, many of the poems even more. They resonate on multiple registers of my soul; I should say, fragments of my life’s inner journey. I read the first set of poems as honoring melancholy, and fending off despair that loss and regret often beget. Your concluding poems, which echo the title of your collection, succinctly epitomize Buber’s concept of dialogue: “Like the poet whose kingdom is projection/Cleansing the windows of perception/I scrape the scourge off men’s faces. ...I polish the windows of our perception/So we can all regain acuity and the world liberty.”

And this is Prof. Emeritus Clive Scott's appreciation of "Apperception":

I have, over the past few days, been happily ensconced in "Apperception", enjoying the account of the pandemic as an image of all kinds of virus, touched with Hogarthian ferocity, and the tireless formal invention, particularly around the sonnet, which invests the psycho-perceptual with different shadings and dispositional shifts. It's been a real pleasure and I'm very grateful for your having kindly thought to send it.

Clive Scott - Emeritus Professor of Literature

"Painted Poetry and Painterly Poetics, an ekphrastic notion part 3: Palimpsest" is now printed in the NL and online with poems and an essay by myself, many other poets and Professor Candida Smith's writings on modern ekphrasis.

Emily Bilman has a unique poetic voice evolved through the pain of personal experience which lends her poetry a vital core. She is a poet whose work is deeply felt. She is able

to convey the universality of love betrayed, life encountered and meaning lost through catharsis, potent imagery and precise evocation. In a world of contemporary poetry which frequently presents an ironic detachment in its thematics and presence, Emily Bilman's work will continue to have great appeal to the reader interested in matters of the heart.

Dr. Kirsten Norris, Wolfson College, Oxford University.

A WOMAN BY A WELL, Blurb by John K. Coleridge, Esq., Samuel Taylor Coleridge's grand...grand nephew who read the ms. in Norwich, England


Music ... The last poem brings us back to a very satisfying creative conclusion and to the next re-reading just as it would be with a worthwhile piece of music.




Like a luminous sphere

bursting into myriad other spheres,

the gloss inside the dark

silk-comb will soon erupt,

shedding its bloated light-belt

into the willows’ warmth and

mellow the imago’s folds into

the worker-bee’s chiaroscuro

symmetry. Flirting, for her colony

with the briar and the anemone, the bee

builds, glues, waxes her honey-

comb into fractal cells. Like the bees’

antennae, my hands seethe,

ferment, macerate, knead and

shape bread, and build, build, build –

wax words into future domes,

crypts, rooms, nests, poems.




A water where

the ebb-wave, flood-born

is flood-broken yet

the wave wavers and transports

me through the river's mouth


into the sea. A flood-broken

ebb-wave where the slime sucked

below the swell, oozes

the surface light through

its dun density,

an ochre silt mass lulled by

the wave's gliding gait.


A water whose slime

slides under the wave’s swelling skin

whose slime settles through the light's

silence winnowing through a prism


and between the ebb and the flux

billow-buoyed mud


my mood with

the fluid mnemonic snapshot

of the estuary


where the mud flood faints

waywardly weaning

new fluent transfers

in sleek serpentine streaks

of oceanic blue.



A WOMAN BY A WELL Reviewed by Brian E. Wrixon

Emily Bilman is more than a woman with a message, more than a talented poet. Through her poetry she embodies the strength of womankind and gives voice to that strength through her writing. Her powerful message comes alive in A WOMAN BY A WELL: A SELF-PORTRAIT. This is the kind of book that one wants to read several times, because each trip through its pages builds and adds to the portrait of the woman by the well. Each reading of the book unfolds more and more about her and what drives her onwards. We get to know her and through her,  we get to know ourselves. Careful readings will help us reach the ultimate conclusion that the poet is speaking for all mankind and not only for and about women alone.  Though the message flows from the heart and the pen of a woman, do not assume that her manner of speaking is gentle or soft. Quite the contrary, it is as if we are listening to Queen Boadicea or Joan of Arc rallying the troops with sword held high. Her language is strong and powerful and we are forced to pay attention to what she says. Sometimes we tremble at her words, sometimes we are awe-inspired. 


A comment concerning MODERN EKPHRASIS from Joost de Jonge, an abstract Dutch painter, through LinkedIn:

I really feel that your book is one that touches my soul, my most intimate feelings and thinking, true artistic practice, it voices real commitment and integrity, towards the arts and it has creative capacity...  Thank you!  Joost de Jonge



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