‘No one remembers everything about someone,’ writes Hannah Sullivan in Three Poems, an ambitious debut collection of three long poems that map out the attempt to capture distinct memories rising from a mass of impressions. The book opens with ‘You, Very Young in New York’, a pulsing memoir of life in the city, where the narrator recalls her subject dutifully aiming at ‘The usual prescriptions, the usual assays on innocence:/I love you to the wrong person, I feel depressed’. Here, the movement from innocence to experience is not a sudden break; instead, the ‘huge lost innocence at which you aimed’
Recedes like long perspectives, like the sky
Square at the end of Fifth whitening at dawn
Unseen, as you watch the unlit cabs go by.
This first poem is sprawling in its coverage yet taut in its manner, its form switching between tercets, couplets and free verse in a challenging modernist style. The line between pleasure and pain is a very delicate one; for all the novelties that the city provides, there is