Imperfect Beginnings by Viv Fogel

My huge thanks to  Isabelle of Fly on the Wall for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for Imperfect Beginnings by Viv Fogel. It’s a pleasure to share my review of Imperfect Beginnings today.

Published by Fly on the Wall on 28th February 2023, Imperfect Beginnings is available for purchase here.

Imperfect Beginnings

Imperfect Beginnings lays its poems out to rest on uncertain terrain. Visa paperwork deadlines hang in the air. New-borns, torn too early from their mother’s breast, learn to adapt to harsh guardianship.

Belonging and exile are mirrored in the stories of having to leave one’s birthmother―or motherland.

From narrative poems such as ‘My Father Sold Cigarettes To The Nazis’, Fogel takes us on a journey throughout history, spanning ancestry, wartime, adoption and peacetime, as life settles. Family, work, love and the natural world provide purpose, meaning and a sense of coming ‘home’.

My Review of Imperfect Beginnings

A collection of poems in five sections.

I’m going to be completely honest and say that I found Imperfect Beginnings challenging because it is filled with poetry of harshness and difficulty. I thought this poetry was impressive and brilliant because I found Viv Fogel’s writing searing and emotive, frequently uncomfortable and always powerful, so that she forced me to consider the world anew in an unsettling manner. 

Imperfect Beginnings is a collection about home, whether that’s a physical place that requires maintenance, or an emotion knowing something ‘will do’, a homeland, or a person long forgotten and re-encountered. There’s real depth here as Viv Fogel considers difficult subjects like belonging, birth, death, isolation, poverty and relationships, and the physical fracturing on the page of many of her lines echoes to perfection the fracturing of life she’s writing about. I found this collection very affecting in content, theme and appearance. 

The opening piece to part II, for example, is just four short lines long and stopped me in my tracks completely. If only Putin could read Viv Fogel’s words… Similarly, I’d never truly considered the word remember before. To re-member, to piece back together, to reconstruct our memories, our past and our identity. Viv Fogel gave me reason to pause and consider. Reading her poetry made me take time out from the relentless rush of life and encouraged me to reflect on my own life even whilst I was being given a privileged glimpse into hers. 

Imperfect Beginnings is challenging. It opens wounds and feels simultaneously both intimate and global in its concept. However, above all else I found this collection uplifting because in spite of the negative experiences and concepts Viv Fogel explores, there is hope  – as embodied in the final three lines of the book. But you’ll need to get your own copy to find out what I mean and I really recommend that you do. Read Imperfect Beginnings and you won’t remain unchanged.

About Viv Fogel

Viv Fogel’s poems have been published in various magazines and anthologies since the mid-70’s. She has a collection Without Question 2006 and two pamphlets (Witness 2013 and How it is … 2018) Her poems and her work are influenced by having been adopted by refugee Holocaust survivors. London based, once an art teacher, involved with community, social housing and education projects, and since the mid-80’s has worked as a psychotherapist.

She is a grandmother to 3 dual-heritage grandchildren.

For more information, visit Viv’s website. and follow her on Twitter @VivWynant.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

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