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The Crumb Road Paperback – 27 Jun 2013

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Bloodaxe Books Ltd (27 Jun. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852249749
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852249748
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 0.8 x 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 480,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


The Crumb Road has a rich, melancholy modesty, and to spend time with it enriches our attention. --Sean O'Brien, The Guardian

Maitreyabandhu's work beautifully, and seriously, contains the possibilities of what other traditions might call insight. --Fiona Sampson, Poetry Review

Maitreyabandhu's poetry opens vistas. Reading his work is an unusual pleasure. He is a poet of journeys great and small - and the reader is privileged to be his companion. --Carol Rumens

About the Author

Maitreyabandhu was born Ian Johnson in 1961, in Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire. His parents ran a coach firm on the High Street. Initially trained as a nurse at the Walsgrave Hospital, Coventry, he went on to study fine art at Goldsmiths College, London, alongside Sarah Lucas and Damien Hirst.

He started attending classes at the London Buddhist Centre (LBC) in 1986, and moved into a residential community above the LBC in 1987. He was ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order in 1990 and given the name Maitreyabandhu. Since then he has lived and worked at the LBC, teaching Buddhism and meditation. He has written two books on Buddhism, Thicker than Blood: Friendship on the Buddhist Path (2001) and Life with Full Attention: a Practical Course in Mindfulness (2009), both with Windhorse Publications. His forthcoming book, The Journey and the Guide, also with Windhorse, is due in 2014. In 2010 he founded Poetry East, a poetry venue exploring the relationship between spiritual life and poetry, and attracting many of Britain's foremost poets, including Jo Shapcott, David Constantine, Don Paterson and Sean O'Brien.

Maitreyabandhu has won the Keats-Shelley Prize, the Basil Bunting Award, the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize, and the Ledbury Festival Poetry Competition. His first pamphlet The Bond won the Poetry Business Book and Pamphlet Competition (2010) and was shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award. Vita Brevis, his second pamphlet, won the iOTA Shots Award (2011). His first book-length collection, The Crumb Road, is published by Bloodaxe in 2013 and is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. He has published articles exploring the relationship between spiritual life and poetry in Poetry Review, Magma, Agenda, Assent, and In Their Own Words: Contemporary Poets on their Poetry (Salt, 2012). His poems have been anthologised in both the UK and USA.

Customer Reviews

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There are several initial surprises in this remarkable book of poems. The first is very welcome: almost every poem is, to my mind, interesting and accessible, not obscured by abstraction or conscious difficulty, and yields its images and meanings and emotion with generosity. How often can one make such a claim for a comparable modern poetry collection? The second surprise is less welcome: the Buddhist name of the poet (aka Ian Johnson from Warwickshire) and the oriental cover art - as well as the blurb and cover quotes which talk about mystical and spiritual worlds - mislead us into thinking that this book is likely to be a collection of Far Eastern spiritual poetry. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is in fact an evocation of a rural childhood in Southern England thirty to forty years ago, where landscape is remembered for itself alone, not to prove a point or be allegorical. An English tree on the cover rather than a Japanese flower would have been more appropriate.

The poems come in three sections. The first are mainly about the poet's pre-pubescent life in and around a village, about his family, his roots, his exploration of a landscape that shaped his childhood. The second ranges wider, dealing with nature and art and people in the landscape. It includes four fine prose poems. And then in the middle of this section is another surprise (though a few poems previous to this hint at the new theme). We come across what for me is the most beautiful poem in the book, 'At the Station'. In this poem the poet observes a young male couple at Euston Station; he imagines a tender scene of love-making when they return home. It is so unexpected, so different to what has gone before, its effect is nothing less than a detonation in the middle of the book.
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'Two cockerels.. fought to the death among the cauliflowers.' He may be a born-again Buddhist (formerly Ian Johnson) but there's nothing airy-fairy about these powerful, grounded, sometimes lyrical poems drawing on his childhood (school looms large), the natural world and - surprise, surprise - lurve. I particularly liked the four prose poems and two that followed, At the Station and The Man, which seemed to share something of the same ethos. Britain's about due for a prose poet of stature; Ian (sorry, can't handle his new moniker) might be our man. But 'Stephen must have overtook' (p71) needs to be zapped. Overtook as past participle? Some of us are still coming to terms with 'I was sat'
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Maitreyabandhu's poetry in The Crumb Road makes me want to look more at people, nature, things. I carry phrases around with me such as `the quiet inside myself is of a room within a room' in `Still Life with Geranium'. Thank you for such gifts.
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