Comments by: Stephen Sexton
poet and 2020 winner of the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, the E.M. Forster Award and the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature

Idiolect is a lively, marvellous collection of lyrics, vignettes and short, fleet-footed narratives teeming with history and language. The various Englishes—North American and Hibernian—of this collection commingle into rich and textured expression all its author’s own. Timely anxieties about politics and technology’s ever-refining intelligence sit alongside poems composed by the iPhone; fluent and agile riffs on poets of the past—Louis MacNeice particularly—keep company with takes on paintings and photographs, and elsewhere riff along to Kind of Blue. A generous, capacious collection touched throughout with technical skill and compassion.

Comments by: Gary Geddes
poet and author of What Does A House Want? and editor of 20th-Century Poetry and Poetics (5th edition)

If idiolect, as the dictionary suggests, is about individual speech habits, P.W. Bridgman is to be congratulated for his amazing range of diction, from colloquial idioms to elevated speech and delightful rhetorical hijinks. He is, in turn, playful, sly, ironic, satirical, combining a strong narrative bent with a judge’s keen eye for human foibles. His new book offers surprise after surprise, with perhaps the fattest sonnets ever written, some lines pushing thirty syllables, but whipped into shape by wickedly clever end-rhymes.

Comments by: Editorial team
for Ink, Sweat and Tears

… [Idiolect is] a poetry collection that teems with life and the idiosyncrasies of an assured voice.

Comments by: Angela Rebrec
poet and poetry judge for the 2021 Royal City Literary Arts Society’s WriteOn! Competition

[Poetry Makes Nothing Happen, Or So It’s Said, from Idiolect, is] an ambitous narrative glosa… This poem plunges us into a lunch-hour conversation between two surgeons — artfully referred to as ‘the lung man’ and the ‘heart man’ — who debate a difficult ethical question regarding two of their patients. The poet cleverly veils the dilemma in the spitfire conversation between the two who dispute the merits of emotion (that poetry offers) versus pure intellect (espoused by science). The core message of this poem hinges in a memory the ‘heart man’ recalls when, as a youth, he was spurned by a poetry-loving girl despite his efforts to recite poems to her: ‘You’ve / looked it up in books and you’ve got it all wrong’ she’d say to me, laughing.’ The conversation is witty and sometimes ironic — as noted in the title — where we come to realize that poetry indeed can move people to make ‘things’ happen, and illustrated when the ‘heart man’ exclaims, ‘The heart is not just a muscle.’ This is a smart poem — energetic, mentally and emotionally engaging — simultaneously making us grimace and smile.

Comments by: June Godwin
poet and poetry judge for the 2019 Royal City Literary Arts Society’s WriteOn! Competition

[‘A Family Gathers’] is a quiet poem packed with illuminating detail.  A family sits around a table with their lawyer, going over a will.  The are being required to accept that a deceased man (father, husband) had sired a son unknown to them.  The 16 lines tell a huge story which spans history, nationhood, secrets and family.  Amazingly, much of the telling is through descriptions of chipped dishes, a frayed tablecloth and the family arms.  Skilfully, the poet uses a sold rhyme scheme that does not interfere with the tale.  I look forward to hearing the poet read the piece out loud.

Comments by: Ian Colford
former editor of Pottersfield Portfolio

… [M]oving and accomplished work [referring to the short story “Ceann Dubh Dílis”, winner of the Pottersfield Portfolio Compact Fiction Award].

Comments by: Deborah McMenamy
editor of Labello Press and winner of the Eric Hoffer Editors’ Choice Award for Fiction

… [S]lightly surreal and enormously entertaining [referring to the short story “Cake, Bang and Elm”, third place winner in the Ireland-based Leonard A. Koval International Fiction Competition for 2012].

Comments by: Sharon Riis
sometime fiction competition judge for Grain Magazine and author of (among other titles) The True Story of Ida Johnston (The Women’s Press, 1976)

…The narrative is simple and straightforward; the language of the telling is brilliant, lyrical. A delight to read and I would think a delight to hear read aloud [referring to the short story, “Young Love in the Brayburn Road”, given an honourable mention in Grain Magazine’s Postcard Story Competition].  

Comments by: Polly Robinson, author and contributor to anthologies such as
The Survivor’s Guide to Bedlam (B. Wrixon Books, 2012)

… [A] brilliant exposition of Irish Catholic life and the relationship between a young couple and [the young woman’s] family [referring to the flash fiction piece, “Ad Clamamus Te, Exsules Filii Hevae”, published in The Moth Magazine and in the anthology A Flash of Fiction.

Comments by: Anne Giardini, novelist and author of 
The Sad Truth About Happiness (HarperCollins, 2005) and Advice for Italian Boys (HarperCollins, 2009)

Reading Bridgman is like watching a brilliant scientist at work. He places his characters under a high-powered microscope, and then brings them into clear and merciless focus, so that we see their fascinating complexity, their furtive yearnings and the pulsing of their startled hearts.

Comments by: Leslie Hall Pinder, author of 
On Double Tracks (Lester & Orpen Dennys, 2002) and Under the House (Vintage Canada, 1990)

These stories [in Standing at an Angle to My Age] are startling, the way that the short stories of Raymond Carver are. With masterful, authorial assurance, P.W. Bridgman leads you into a quiet, recognizable neighbourhood on an ordinary day. And then he delivers an ending that is like a gunshot ringing out. The sound reverberates back to reveal, with fresh impact and insight, both character and event. As the work progresses, the effect on the reader is cumulative. An eerie suspense develops, as disquieting (yet satisfying) as a mystery novel.

Comments by: Ben Nuttall-Smith, author of Blood, Feathers and Holy Men
(Libros Libertad Publishing, 2010)

What a privilege to read this beautiful collection of 18 short stories from England, Ireland and Canada. From the mysterious and magical Mr. Pound, to Bridgman’s final tale of gossip and truth, the author’s tales take me back to incidents of my own youth, lessons so many of us forget too soon. P.W. Bridgman has mastered the art of description, from an intimate peek into the neighbours’ kitchen on a Sunday morning, to a tragic act of wartime betrayal, to young love, to the dignity of a man’s last days…