Rooted firmly in the subtropical biomes of South Africa, HOTHOUSE tessellates fragments of lives that emerge from the sweltering intensity of schools. Alice Hill-Woods builds a tender archive, tracing the material and affective dimensions of a queer ecosystem as it plays out behind the gauzy drapes of memory. In the steady heat of accretive summers, HOTHOUSE offers poems as textured coordinates for distinct temporalities, meditating on the connective tissue that exists between bisexual desire and ecological intimacy.
Oozing, wanting, growing and falling, HOTHOUSE takes place in a vibrant architecture of girlhood and human vulnerability, held by sensuous detail and remembered mirage. Poems are glass panels opening upon moments whose vitreous surfaces are no more permanent than the bodies that bear or pass through them. As ‘a fissure in the hothouse’ suggests the structure is not fully heatproof or watertight, so Alice Hill-Woods’ poems are ‘glimmering’ and ‘loose’ – letting in the ‘jelly of a dream’ and the ‘soft / electric tendrils’ of a day. Oceanic feeling is the undersong of the speaker’s tactile relationship to landscape, desire and relation: HOTHOUSE slips effortlessly between scales, spacetimes and remainders, revelling in the material pleasures of language to thrive by what might ‘catch the light / and hold it there’. – Maria Sledmere, author of neutral milky halo (Guillemot Press, 2020)