The poems in The Sleepwalker at Sea tread a fluid line between dream and wakefulness, memory and loss, presence and longing. Leave a house and it suddenly fills with 'the unseen'; consult 'The Book of Clues' and discover only 'ghostly hints' of a self you've left behind. Linked by their restless displacement, pacing haunted spaces, these are poems that question what it means to be in the world and seek answers in lost rooms, missing sketches, disappearing fragments. By turns meditative and playful, romantic and philosophical, The Sleepwalker at Sea strides an invisible path through streets of strangers, in search of ruined altars, buried candles, and 'the whispering galleries of the dead'. Here, deer 'dissolve / into a tapestry of mist', a butterfly 'measures / the universe's weight', and the soul 'sculpts itself in frostlit air'.
In the five volumes of poetry he has published since 1989, Peter McDonald explores an intimately known territory that becomes strange: pulled out of shape by history, made unfamiliar by distance, made new by the attentive imagination. McDonald';s Collected Poems is a sustained meditation on place and belonging, loss and love. The classical world is a haunting presence; the landscape of McDonald';s poems resonates with past voices, with memories and acts of remembrance. The assured and scrupulous craft that creates the telling detail, the unsettling depth, has made him one of the most important Northern Irish writers of his generation.
In Ice Gillian Clarke turns to the real winters of 2009 and 2010. In their extremity they redefined all the seasons for her. Nature asserted itself and renewed the environment for the imagination. The poem 'Polar'; is the poet';s point de repère, evoking a polar-bear rug she had as a child and here resurrects in a spirit of personal and ecological longing that becomes a creative act. She lives with the planet, its seasons and creatures, in a joyful, anxious communion. The book also includes the 'asked for'; and commissioned poems, and the Guardian spreads Clarke has written during her time as National Poet of Wales (2008-2013). She follows in the rich millennium-old Welsh tradition of occasional writing going back to the first-known named British poets Aneirin and Taliesin in the sixth century.
To walk through a landscape is to be part of a slow unfolding of time and distance, to commit yourself to an adventure. The Hundred Thousand Places is a single poem that travels across seasons, through a variety of Scottish highland and island landscapes, from dawn to dusk. Make an early start, 'feel your way out / into what might.take form'. It is a long walk, along the coast, over mountain and moorland, through pine and birch forest, ending on a shore where the sea offers 'another knowledge / wild and cold'. Attentive and responsive, the unhurried pace of Thomas A. Clark's writing draws the reader into a shared journey, pausing on the possibilities of a phrase, the music of the names of trees and flowers, or turning the page to open new horizons.
For nearly half a century Philip French';s writing on cinema has been essential reading for filmgoers, cinephiles and anyone who enjoys witty, intelligent engagement with the big screen. His vast knowledge of the medium is matched by his love for it. I Found It at the Movies collects some of the best of Philip French';s film writing from 1964 to 2009. Its subjects are as various, entertaining and challenging as cinema itself: Kurosawa and the Addams family; Satyajit Ray and Doris Day; from Hollywood and the Holocaust to British cinema and postage stamps. I Found It at the Movies is an illuminating companion to the world of the cinema. I Found It at the Movies is the first of three collections of Philip French';s writings on film and culture
Child: New and Selected Poems 1991-2011 combines a generous collation of poems from Mimi Khalvati';s five Carcanet volumes with previously uncollected sequences. She orders her work autobiographically, telling the stories of her life in four sections: childhood and early adulthood; motherhood; meditations on light; and love and art, circling back to childhood in her celebrated final sequence ('The Meanest Flower';). The figure of the child stands at the centre of the book, appearing in many guises: the poet as a schoolgirl on the Isle of Wight, or in half-remembered later years living with her grandmother in Tehran; her two children, now grown up; children in art; and an enduring sense of oneself as a child that is never left behind. Here is the essential Khalvati: exquisitely nuanced, formally accomplished, Romantic in sensibility; rapturous and tender in response to nature, family and love. Her poems, David Constantine writes, 'say what it feels like being human, the good and the ill of it, with passion, tact and lightness.'
Emporium, Ian Pindar';s first collection, is stocked with curiosities, jokes and horrors. Step through the door and discover Big Bumperton on his bicycle, Mrs Beltinska in her bath, Monsieur P. on holiday, a transfixed girl in blue jeans, a wasp, two lascivious figs and a god who wanders shopping arcades 'enhaloed in black flames of longing and dread';. A chain letter travels across centuries of poetry, from Langland to Maxine Chernoff; deep in a snowy forest, seen only by wolves, a mysterious machine is resonating. Pindar maps a surreal hinterland where the dark humour of absurdity lies in wait.
Arguing with Malarchy is full of voices. Tender, sinister, sad or cantankerous, they compel us to attend to their realities, the glimpsed depths of their stories, the distances they have travelled. Carola Luther';s poems are alert to the ways a life can be briefly snared in the turn of a phrase - or in the moment when language fails. She explores silences, absences, the unspoken communication between animals and human beings, the living and the dead, and the boundaries between what is remembered, forgotten or invented. In the book';s first part, a chronicle of mourning creates 'the bare threads of tunes'; out of what is lost, and begins a new story. In the second part, Luther';s characters live in their language; 'Keep talking,'; the old man tells Malarchy. We travel through elemental landscapes of sea and sky, shadows and wide savannahs that exist beyond language and sustain when words are silenced.
In the Wake of the Day is a book of memories and journeys; from the chaotic energy of urban life in modern Istanbul, where John Ash lives, to the ruins of vanished civilisations; from personal incident to the narratives and vacancies of cultures. Ash inhabits the fertile and ambiguous territory where East and West meet. We 'know and do not know'; the past. In an 'imperial city without empire, place of paradox';, time too becomes fluid. The ancient, half-imagined past of Ur, Alexandria, Cappadocia coexists with a contemporary world in which 'tank tracks are driven over Babylon';. At the centre of this collection are John Ash';s versions of poems by the great Alexandrian C.P. Cavafy. Working with Cavafy';s voice, Ash expresses his own urbane intelligence.
Kei Miller's work was acclaimed by the distinguished Jamaican writer Olive Senior as 'Some of the most exciting poetry I';ve read in years... An extraordinary new voice singing with clarity and grace.' A Light Song of Light sings in the rhythms of ritual and folktale, praise songs and anecdotes, blending lyricism with a cool wit, finding the languages in which poetry can sing in dark times. The book is in two parts: Day Time and Night Time, each exploring the inseparable elements that together make a whole. Behind the daylight world of community lies another, disordered, landscape: stories of ghosts and bandits, a darkness violent and seductive. At the heart of the collection is the Singerman, a member of Jamaica's road gangs in the 1930s, whose job was to sing while the rest of the gang broke stones. He is a presence both mundane and shamanic. Kei Miller';s poems celebrate 'our incredible and abundant lives', facing the darkness and making from it a song of the light.
They are perhaps most mysterious, even to me,' wrote Rainer Maria Rilke of the Sonnets to Orpheus, 'in the manner in which they arrived and imposed themselves on me - the most puzzling dictation I have ever received and taken down.' Rilke, born in Prague in 1875, died at Valmont near Montreux in the last days of 1926. His Sonnets to Orpheus may appear comparatively simple, even casual, at first reading, but they are crammed with content which resonates far beyond the familiar legend of Orpheus and Eurydice. The Sonnets have an astonishing range which takes in the Singing God and his beloved Eurydice; legend in general, along with time, flight and change; architecture, music and dance; animals, plants, flowers and fruits. They ask to be read by the ear and by the inner eye as much as by the intellect. The Sonnets were 'taken down' during a very few weeks in 1922 - weeks in which the poet also brought his Duino Elegies to completion. In them, Rilke partly identifies himself with Orpheus. The young dancer Vera, for whom the Sonnets are inscribed, taken so young into the Underworld, becomes Eurydice. A tension which adds life to Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus comes through a paradox. Rilke's was a deeply inward, introspective nature, but in the Sonnets he succeeds brilliantly in looking out from his isolation: in making poetry from material which lies in an important sense 'outside'. Rilke's ten letters to the young officer-cadet Franz Xavier Kappus, written between 1903 ad 1908, were later published as Letters to a Young Poet. By now the letters have become a part of literary folklore. They contain insights which are as profound today as when they were written, almost a century ago.
Selected Poems draws on all the books Elizabeth Jennings published before Growing-Points. It represents the poet's own distillation of the first two decades of her writing - the poems which established her as one of the most passionate and precise of our writers, a woman of humane values, religious vision and natural sympathy. 'The outstanding thing about Jennings's poetry,' wrote Douglass Dunn, 'is its wisdom, hard-earned from grief and religious faith.' And Peter Levi says, 'She is one of the few living poets we could not do without.'
The Book with Twelve Tales is a gallimaufry of stories: comic, frightening, exotic and magical. Here, in John Gallas's richly imagined narrative worlds, are the American gothic of Morten Mortenssen, the pig who eats his owners; the sexual folktale of a comedy of Mongolian marriage; a fable of the power of the imagination as a poet is interrogated by a president. Then there is the terrifying Arctic potentate Zigismund Walrus in his nightmare palace of ice, and the true adventure of the author and Turkish rabies. Gallas's exuberant language draws the reader into twists of plot and dialogue, through tales of evil and violence, love and generosity that reaffirm the power of humour and the value of shared wisdoms.
Wordsworth's 'meanest flower that blows' suggested to him 'thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears'. The lyrics, elegies, songs and ghazals in Mimi Khalvati's book pay attention to things the imagination generally disregards, an attention that is concentrated, intense and unapologetically Romantic. Hers is the true voice of feeling, undeflected by irony or self-deprecation. There is rapture in these poems as well as a tragic sense: nature, childhood, motherhood and family relationships all have a double valency, a give and take, to which Khalvati witnesses with a feeling sharpened by love and grief.
Beginning in present-day St Petersburg, The Russian Jerusalem explores the landscape of twentieth century Russian literature. In this evocative autobiographical novel, distinguished poet, translator, novelist and biographer Elaine Feinstein moves among the dead poets of Stalin's Russia with the poet Marina Tsvetaeva as her Virgil, mingling with the ghosts of writers such as Anna Akhmatova, Boris Pasternak, Osip Mandelstam and Joseph Brodsky. These imaginary encounters are interspersed with new poems by Feinstein. The author, herself of Russian descent, reconstructs the lives and fates of Russian, often Jewish, writers during the long age of Soviet terror, re-establishing them at the heart of the European tradition.
Caroline Bird's two earlier collections were acclaimed for their exuberant energy, surreal imagination and passion -- 'a bit of a Howl for a new generation', wrote the Hudson Review. Watering Can celebrates life as an early twenty-something. The poems, writes Caroline Bird, 'contain prophetic videos, a moon colonised by bullies, weeping scholars, laughing ducks, silent weddings -- all the fertiliser that pours on top of your head.' The extraordinary verve and compassion of her verse propels us into the anxiety of new responsibilities. Raw but never hopeless, Watering Can has comedy, wordplay and bright self-deprecation.
Extended Family is a sensual celebration of the varied relationships that make up lives richly lived: from the subtle, intimate interactions of close family members and lovers, to the mutual rewards and stresses of relationships with friends, therapists, students and housemates. The book begins in America, with childhood memories and adolescent love. In the second section, 'Younger Men Have Birthdays Too', a love affair unravels in a sequence of tender, angry love poems. In the final section, relationships encompass casual interactions and the close understandings of friends, loving kindness and the chaos of mental breakdown. Linda Chase's wit and sharp eye for telling detail make this a collection in which, with a wry eye, the poet can express heartbreak, and the narratives of the everyday reveal unique moments of insight.
A to B began as a poem about a journey: it became a journey in itself, a collection that travels through emotions and places, unfolding to the rhythms of discovery and memory. Places and people reveal their secrets; fragile bonds of love link past to present. In the book's first part, an elusive pattern is glimpsed in fragments: a plane climbs into a clear evening sky, the year turns to spring, a father's voice is remembered after his death. The second part is marked by meticulous observation. A man watches daylight creep across a room. And the concluding section celebrates a quality of silence in which imagination grows. Gerry McGrath extends our understanding of what it is to travel through the world.
Sophie Hannah's sharp pen dissects modern life and relationships with insouciant honesty and ruthless wit, and her love poems evoke timeless feelings with a shrewd simplicity that deepens her range. An edge of desolation, tenderness -- an occasional flash of cruelty -- and an ebullient delight in language make this a book of bittersweet pleasures. Pessimism for Beginners includes an extract from the opening chapter of Sophie Hannah's second psychological thriller, Hurting Distance, published by Hodder & Stoughton, described by the Times as 'a superbly creepy, twisty thriller about obsessive love, psychological torture and the darkest chambers of the human heart'. In poetry and prose, Sophie Hannah is compellingly readable.
The Welsh publishing house Gwasg Gomer published Gillian Clarke's first full collection of poems, The Sundial, in 1978. In the twenty years since then the poet has become one of the best-loved and most widely read writers of Wales, well-known for her readings, for her radio work and her workshops. 'Gillian Clarke's poems ring with lucidity and power . . .her work is both personal and archetypal, built out of language as concrete as it is musical,' the Times Literary Supplement said. She combines traditional skills with an original voice and outlook, and with a history which includes the unwritten stories of Welsh women. Her Selected Poems has proven one of the most popular volumes of modern Welsh poetry, having gone through seven printings in a dozen years. Her language has a quality both casual and intense, mundane and visionary,' the Listener said of Letter from a Far Country. There is no gaudiness in her poetry; instead, the reader is aware of a generosity of spirit which allows the poems' subjects their own unbullied reality.' Gillian Clarke is a severe critic of her own poems. Collected Poems includes all that she wishes to preserve of her work to date.
Peter Pindar (1738-1819), the pen name of John Wolcot, dared to ridicule the foibles, corruptions and misdemeanours of King George III and those in power in his kingdom. His satire was merciless, but Wolcot survived accusations of treason, protected by his wit and readership. His admirers included Lord Nelson and the Prince Regent himself; to Robert Burns he was 'a delightful fellow and a first favourite of mine'. Fascinating for what they reveal of the world of Hanoverian England, Peter Pindar's audacious poems still shock the modern reader into laughter at the unchanging characteristics of the arrogant and powerful. Fenella Copplestone's introduction and notes illuminate social and literary contexts of Pindar's writing.
In The Canary's Songbook Karen Press explores the inescapable shaping power of personal and public histories in individual lives and political processes. The theme has deep roots in Press's native South Africa. The desire to find ancestors who can be invoked as sources of wisdom, or validations of unwisdom, is a central preoccupation of the poems, given force by Press's understanding of South Africa's continuing, painful dialogue with its own past. The Canary's Songbook affirms how universal such themes are, placing Africa on its own terms within a global culture whose attractions and corruptions touch all, and in which individuals struggle to make whole lives from the fragments they inherit.
The naturalist Gilbert White is at the heart of this collection. Like him, Jeremy Over explores an ecology with meticulous acuity. His poems are 'found in the field': the beauty and oddity of the language of others is brought into sharp focus. Robert Herrick's 'sweet disorder in the dress' is subjected to a series of disrobings; a guidebook, instruction manual and catalogue become occasions to celebrate the pleasures of language. Setting out from White's Natural History of Selborne, Over embarks on a sequence of poems that, in White's words, lend 'an helping hand towards the enlargement of the boundaries' of natural history. A deep seam of Englishness - Stanley Spencer, Samuel Palmer, Henry Purcell - runs parallel to an American dimension, and further off in time and space are traces of Tristan Tzara, Rumi and Wang Wei. The reasonable language with which we try to contain the unreasonableness of things here trips, spins and flies into new figurations.
Teasing, funny and celebratory - Rays is a wry and tender lover's gift. Continuing Richard Price's virtuosic playfulness of form, it improvises on the formal shape of sonnet and canzone, charging them with the energy of blues and rock, glimpsing narratives of desire. In a restless, sleepless landscape where language becomes shrill, an alphabet of love poems creates a dreamy island, between the solace of haiku and the precisions of Emily Dickinson. The Renaissance poet Louise Labé and an imaginary band, The Loss Adjusters, sing the complex beauties of passion.