Results of the Whitbread Book Award in the year 2000.
Lucid, tender, and strangely troubling, the poems in this collection are hymns to the tension between the sanctuary of home and the lure of escape. This is Burnside territory: a domestic world threaded through with myth and longing, beyond which lies a no man’s land—the ‘somewhere in between’ of dusk or dawn, of mists or sudden light.
This “Selected” contains material from Langley’s previous two collections, “Man Jack” and “Twelve Poems”, as well as newer and unpublished material. Langley’s work is demanding, but rewarding to. Longer poems such as “Juan Fernandez” and “Matthew Glover” are mixed with shorter pieces, but all are carried by the playful, sometimes terse but never self-ragarding language of a confidant and assured poet. A friend of J.H. Prynne, Langley’s work has a more playful, accessible and humerous edge which gives the reader a more immediate reward.
This collection of poems by Michael Donaghy begins impressively. The first poem, “The Excuse”, is a comic-but-elegiac, sly-yet-touching riff on the pain of losing and remembering a father: “’My father’s sudden death has shocked us all’, Even me, and I’ve just made it up”. The second, equally sensitive poem “Not Knowing the Words”, also deals with a dead father, but this time gently and eloquently argues with itself as to how the father’s void can be filled. Then there’s the fourth poem, “Black Ice and Rain”. This is a true tour de force: a shocking,…
These poems mix ancient wisdom of signs and wonders with the open-ended science of the quantum age. Here, the poet looks at childhood memories of rural Ireland and of irretrievable loss nuanced with the restorative intimation that time’s arrow is not, perhaps, relentlessly linear.
Anne Stevenson has always been a restless, questioning poet whose openness has ensured that each of her collections has been distinctive and challenging. Granny Scarecrow is characteristically full of ideas, but as always, Stevenson approaches them by looking intently at small things and seemingly insignificant events. In creating poetry of acute psychological insight, alert to all shades of meaning, she has managed to be incisive as well as entertaining, marrying critical rigour with personal feeling, and a sharp wit with an original brand of serious humour.
Anne Stevenson was trained as a musician and came to poetry with her auditory imagination already developed. For over forty years she has been writing poetry primarily to be heard and overheard. Experimenting with sounds and verse forms has encouraged experiments with subject matter, and Granny Scarecrow is brimming with ideas that—plainly to the author’s amusement—contradict…[more]