Ancient Greek epigrams drive a bitingly contemporary first poetry collection.
I fell in love
it all happened
I am desired
one god alone knows
— ‘One God’ from Palatine Anthology V.51 — Anonymous
Filled with hickeys, puttanesca and tart wit, BITER is an apt title for Claudia Jardine’s debut collection of verse. Fresh translations of erotic Greek epigrams are threaded through boozy sonnets, ecstatic odes and startlingly vulnerable love poems. Jardine weaves ancient and modern together into a rich, glitzy, idiosyncratic tapestry – and in doing so crafts a poetic voice that is at once classical and frisky.
Claudia Jardine has an MA in classics with distinction from Victoria University of Wellington, where she won the 2020 Alex Scobie Research Prize and a Marsden Grant for Masters scholarship. Her first chapbook, ‘The Temple of Your Girl’, was published in AUP New Poets 7. Her ancestors are from the British Isles and the Maltese Archipelago, and she lives in Ōtautahi. There are lots of wonderful things about living in Ōtautahi – for example, have you ever seen the royal spoonbill, or kōtuku ngutupapa, feeding in the estuary at dusk? Marvellous.
‘She’s sharp, critical, iconoclastic, sexy, frank and funny – often all of these in one poem. And while love and sexuality are the dominant themes there is nothing it seems that Claudia can’t write poetry about – spilt pasta, raisinhood, her father’s mishandling of cheese wrapping, German kitchen technology, contemporary auspices.’
— Anna Jackson
‘BITER powerfully strips back the experience of being human across millennia, revealing sharp teeth, still-beating hearts and iron cervices alike. Here the veins of the Tiber flow right through to the Ōtākaro, and Byzantine scholars burn with the same passions as the modern woman – even when she finds herself in the back of a charging Nissan Leaf. Jardine weaves all the tones and textures of life together into a collection that shines with erudition while firmly asserting that to err is human, especially in the kitchen.’
— Rebecca K Reilly
'Claudia’s epigrams are sprinkled throughout the collection like sherbet, they fizz in your mind, little fascinations, so sweetly formed, and then, invitingly, hook you into the enduring power and reach of love, sexuality, hunger, recognition.'
— Paula Green, NZ Poetry Shelf
'Jardine doesn’t hesitate to play with form; pantoums and sonnets rub shoulders with free verse. . . . The collection is a celebration of many facets of love through many eyes.'
— Erica Stretton, Kete Books
'It’s rare that a book has both such precise silliness and wonky sexiness, but Biter revels in it. The pages will flip themselves, and the poems will stay with you for a long while.'
— harold coutts, Bad Apple