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Black Cat Bone [Paperback]

John Burnside
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Aug 2011

John Burnside's remarkable book is full of strange, unnerving poems that hang in the memory like a myth or a song. These are poems of thwarted love and disappointment, of raw desire, of the stalking beast, 'eye-teeth/and muzzle/coated with blood'; poems that recognise 'we have too much to gain from the gods, and this is why/they fail to love us'; poems that tell of an obsessive lover coming to grief in a sequence that echoes the old murder ballads, or of a hunter losing himself in the woods while pursuing an unknown and possibly unknowable quarry.

Drawing on sources as various as the paintings of Pieter Brueghel and the lyrics of Delta blues, Black Cat Bone examines varieties of love, faith, hope and illusion, to suggest an unusual possibility: that when the search for what we expected to find - in the forest or in our own hearts - ends in failure, we can now begin the hard and disciplined quest for what is actually there.

Full of risk and wonder, Black Cat Bone shows the range of Burnside's abilities, but also strikes out for new territories. He remains consistently, though, one of our finest living lyric poets and each of these astonishing poems is as clear and memorable as 'a silver bracelet//falling for days/through an inch and a half/of ice'.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape (4 Aug 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224093851
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224093859
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 85,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"The unmistakable work of a master" (Bernard O’Donoghue Times Literary Supplement)

"A tour de force of liminal expression... Burnside is not a wispily ethereal poet. A stretch of country crossed during the hunt is captured in oils, not in thin watercolours...poignantly luminous...[an] engrossing collection" (M. Wynn Thomas Guardian)

"Black Cat Bone is a deserving winner of this year's Forward Prize for best collection. John Burnside's twelfth volume adds to and deepens a body of poetry that is already exceptionally significant - and utterly recognisable. A musician and chromaticist, he's a poet whose rapt, floating verse conjures up effects of great beauty in both the ear and the imagination" (Fiona Sampson Independent)

"A haunting book of great beauty, powered by love, childhood memory, human longing and loneliness. In an exceptional year, it is an outstanding book, one which the judges felt grew with every reading" (Gillian Clarke, chair of the T.S. Eliot Prize)

"One of the most gifted poets writing today" (Paul Batchelor Times Literary Supplement)

Book Description

Winner of the Forward Prize for Poetry 2011 and the T.S. Eliot Prize 2011

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant collection 31 Aug 2011
By J. H. Bretts VINE VOICE
This is a very good book indeed. No one else writes quite like John Burnside and every poem bears the stamp of his unique style - conjuring up strange yet familiar landscapes and emotional states using deceptively simple language and poetic structures. What perhaps makes this collection special is the way that there are blended echoes of influences as diverse as Robert Frost and Edward Thomas and American Blues singers like Charlie Patten - all in the same poems. Highlights for me are the long opening sequence - an evocative chase through mythical forest and farmland - and a moving exploration of the meaning of a painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterful Book 20 Feb 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a book written by a brilliant author at the height of his powers. John Burnside deservedly won the T.S. Eliot Memorial Prize for this volume. Its range is large and disturbing. It encapsulates a world both ancient and disturbingly modern. I had high hopes of it when I read the initial reviews, but it far exceeded those: it is both profound in its subject matter and adept in its poetics. I have not bought a book of poetry so adroit since Seamus Heaney's "Seeing Things".
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring and elegant 23 Feb 2012
By Steelo
Beautiful story poems, vividly in touch with the natural world and with inner human spaces. They are sparse but elegant and, using a minimum of words, highly descriptive - like looking at a winter tree blackened against the dusk. In my opinion this is what poetry should be. It is what I aspire to write. Stunning.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Burnside 19 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Stunning poetry, and a beautifully produced book. It is always a pleasure to possess a book of this quality - it allows the reader many visits, and each one a pleasure.
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