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Songs of the Darkness: Poems for Christmas [Paperback]

Lawrence Sail , Erica Sail
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: £9.99
Price: £9.49 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

1 Oct 2010
Songs of the Darkness brings together a selection of poems for Christmas written over a period of more than thirty years. They are notable for their combination of a close focus and breadth, and for the way in which the seasonal is celebrated alongside the challenges of history and the beauty of the natural world. topographically the poems range from a Romanian convent to a Devon beach to an alpine cablecar. The finely drawn illustrations by Erica Sail, the writer's daughter, add their own note of precision and detail. Taken together with the poems, they help to create a perspective in which the darkness of winter really does yield up its music. All royalties from sales of Songs of the Darkness will be given to Trusts for African Schools, a registered charity which acts as a conduit for money raised in the UK to be sent out to some of the poorest schools in Africa. More information, and details of the ten individual schools currently supported by the Trusts, eight in Kenya, and one each in Uganda and Ethiopia, are available on the website www.trustsforafricanschools.org.

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Songs of the Darkness: Poems for Christmas + Waking Dreams: New & Selected Poems
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Product details

  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Enitharmon Press; First Edition edition (1 Oct 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904634982
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904634980
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 16.8 x 0.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,007,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


'Lawrence Sail's poetry is beautifully pictorial, evocative and deeply thoughtful. He writes of the presence of God with us, light in our darkness. I am glad that this collection will help to support the education of children in Africa.' ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU

About the Author

Lawrence Sail has been chairman of the Arvon Foundation and has directed the Cheltenham Festival of Literature. The recipient of a Cholmondeley Award and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he has published nine collections of poems, most recently Eye-Baby (Bloodaxe Books, 2006). In 2005 Enitharmon published a book of his essays, Cross-currents. He has edited a number of anthologies, including First and Always: Poems for Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital (Faber, 1988) and, with Kevin Crossley-Holland, The New Exeter Book of Riddles (Enitharmon, 1999) and Light Unlocked (Enitharmon, 2005). In addition to Songs of the Darkness, two books are due out in 2010: from Bloodaxe, Waking Dreams: New & Selected Poems; and from Impress Books, Sift: Memories of Childhood.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A star 12 Oct 2010
By Sheenagh Pugh VINE VOICE
Lawrence Sail is a British poet of some renown, who for 20 years has been writing poems for the Christmas season that he's sent as cards to friends. Now he has collected them in an illustrated book which he is marketing entirely on behalf of the charity Trusts for African Schools, which supports some of the poorest schools in Africa. I've a friend a headmaster in Kenya, who testifies that it's a charity which uses its money wisely and to good account.

Lawrence's poems are thoughtful, delicate, very observing of nature and with a quiet unfussy originality of language. I've just got the book and it's lovely. Here's the opening poem:


Delete leaves, the hum of long evenings, light.
Change to bold the grip of frost, black nights.
Rearrange forest gales, seas steep as stairs.
Italicise the stinging slopes of rain.
Stet the murderous world, heartland of despair.
Indent: in the beginning, begin again.

Insert an asterisk over Bethlehem.
Replace damaged characters with wise men.
Substitute stable for inn, manger for bed.
Transpose caviar and crust, fish and hook.
Realign hope, cherish the hungry and the dead.
Print: weigh in your hand spring's budding book.

Some of the poems have an overtly Christmas theme, others are more generally wintry, but all have that delicate, surprising language, those slopes of rain, that promise of spring after winter... What could make a better gift for someone who loves books, or someone who wants to do some good to people other than manufacturers and retailers over the season? As the blurb on the back, written by none other than Archbishop Desmond Tutu, says: "Lawrence Sail's poetry is beautifully pictorial, evocative and deeply thoughtful. I am glad that this collection will help support the education of children in Africa."

G'wan, make the Archbish, a friend and yourself a little gladder!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sail's Christmas 30 Sep 2010
Sail's new collection for Christmas leads the reader through a dreamscape of light and shadow, starlight and snow, that is all the more poignant for its embedding in moments of pure stark reality. In a frozen allotment, on a star-strewn hill, on a moored yacht, in a myriad of settings spanning thousands of years and miles, Sail exposes the grandeur and the poverty of the Christmas message meeting and sharing in each line. These are poems of poise, of delicate narratives temporally exploded one moment ('Cablecar') and visually shrink in the next ('The Annunciation'); each poem, each line, a moment caught in literary freefall. This is an accessible collection to be picked up and shared time and over again over the Christmas period.
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