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The Cinder Path [Paperback]

Sir Andrew Motion
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: 9.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

1 April 2010

Andrew Motion's new collection (his first since Public Property in 2002) offers a ground-breaking variety of lyrics, love poems and elegies, in which private domains of feeling infer other lives and a shared humanity - exploring how people cope with threats to and in the world around them, as soldiers, lovers, artists, writers and citizens. The conversational tone and formal variety of these poems both shapes and diversifies their response to loss and its inevitabilities.

Here are poems about the last surviving veteran of the trenches; poems which work with found materials drawn from the contiguous worlds of prose; poems which elicit the parallel lives glimpsed in paintings, or the other lives of birds, trees and weather (as of an ordinariness just out of reach). An unemphatic evenness of handling, in the detailing of ordinary destinies, alternates with capacious panoramas of longing and summation, and the collection ends with a remarkable group of directly autobiographical poems about the life and times of the poet's father.


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The Cinder Path + The Customs House + Andrew Motion: Selected Poems 1976-1997
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Product details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (1 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571244939
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571244935
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 439,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

A new poetry collection from Andrew Motion - the last published in his role as Poet Laureate

About the Author

Andrew Motion was appointed Poet Laureate in 1999; he is Professor of Creative Writing at Royal Holloway College, University of London, and co-founder of the online Poetry Archive. He has received numerous awards for his poetry, and has published four celebrated biographies. His group study The Lamberts won the Somerset Maugham Award and his authorised life of Philip Larkin won the Whitbread Prize for Biography. Andrew Motion's novella The Invention of Dr Cake (2003) was described as 'amazingly clever' by the Irish Times and praised for 'brilliant and almost hallucinatory vividness' by the Sunday Telegraph. His memoir, In the Blood (2006), was described as 'the most moving and exquisitely written account of childhood loss I have ever read' in the Independent on Sunday. Andrew Motion was knighted for his services to literature in 2009.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Real poignancy tucked away in here 11 July 2010
By Jeremy Bevan TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
This is the first collection by England's recently-retired Poet Laureate that I've read - and I have to say the first two-thirds of it left me feeling vaguely disappointed. Not that it isn't well-crafted and technically assured, as you'd expect. It's just that many of the poems seem lifeless, inconclusive, and somehow inconsequential - `Meeting at night' and `Geology' being good examples of what I mean by that. Sometimes, they even come across as rather jaded - `Bright Star', for example, or `The English Line', where there's a too-knowing reference to `the worn-out cable/snake comparison', as though Motion has tried and failed (almost as if he couldn't be bothered, though that's probably unfair) to find a more arresting metaphor: as though poetry has become a job, a chore, mere routine. I was worried that the odd poems that did have more energy and seemed to hold some promise (On the Balcony, Diagnosis) were simply embers from a dying fire.

But then I got to the final sequence of poems that dealt with the last illness and death of the poet's father. And for me, they rescue this collection, lift it above the merely ordinary, revivify it. At last, here is real poignancy, genuine depth of feeling, here (paradoxically) the poet comes alive again. Four poems in particular (Veteran, Passing On, The Wish List, The Mower) capture a lifetime of unspoken tendernesses between father and son, of the regrets and distance that bedevil certain kinds of very English, middle-class family relationships. These poems, together with a small number of others reflecting biographically on scenes from family life, make up no more than one third of the collection. But they redeem it, making it on balance a worthwhile and memorable read.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review: The Cinder Path 8 May 2009
By erh83
Format:Hardcover
Poets seem to create sound bites by which their own work is continually judged. Ted Hughes provides one example; his claim that his poetry represents the 'ongoing war between vitality and death' has informed many subsequent readings of his verse.

Andrew Motion has had a similar effect when he claims 'I want my writing to be as clear as water [but] I want readers to see all the way through its surfaces into the swamp.' The implication that under the modern pastoral (to quote one reviewer) he evokes lurk unsettling encounters with otherness which as a race we find ourselves immunised against.

Is this true of 'The Cinder Path'? Certainly, clarity of expression is one of Motion's strengths, but sometimes it is so unambiguous that the 'clear waters' are just that. Those murky, unsettling undertones seem to be largely absent which means some of Motion's poems stray into mere description. In itself the description is satisfying, but it lacks punch.

There are poems which do realise Motion's claim; 'Harry Patch: The Last Fighting Tommy' is perhaps Motion's most successful Laureate poem. Here the ordinary man encountering battlefield horrors, surviving and living to a great age is rendered with an awe and reverence tenderly expressed. This poem, the second in the volume, anticipates the poems which conclude the volume. Motion's father, a veteran of the Second World War, who died three years ago is the inspiration for what are the most notable poems in 'The Cinder Path'. These are much more accomplished, but it's not a surprise. Motion is on familiar ground with the theme of parental loss considering it accounts for many of his poems hitherto (his mother fell into a ten year coma after a riding accident before dying).
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5.0 out of 5 stars A joy to possess 20 Jun 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Of course the front cover is gorgeous...................but the inside with Andrew Motion's poetry is even more so. I originally borrowed this from the library - and thereafter was hooked on this, one of our most gifted contemporary poets.
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