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Ruth is an award-winning UK poet, Professor of Poetry at King's College London. Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She has published twelve poetry collections, including a vivid exploration of migration, animal and human, through the ages and today, called THE MARA CROSSING. And ten books of prose - a wildlife novel and wide range of non-fiction from tiger conservation to ancient Greek drama. She is one of many great-great-grandchildren of Charles Darwin. Her verse biography of him, DARWIN - A LIFE IN POEMS is published in the UK by Chatto, and in US by Knopf.
For her book on wild tigers, TIGERS IN RED WEATHER, she explored Asian forests with foresters and zoologists - whom she wrote about further in her novel, WHERE THE SERPENT LIVES, set in India and Britain.
Ruth teaches poetry in King's College London where she runs a series of talks called POETRY AND - , exploring poetry's connections to all areas of life: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/nov/06/ruth-padel-poetry-connection-readings
See www.ruthpadel.com. Follow her on Twitter @ruthpadel.
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*First published as The Mara Crossing, now with new and updated material*
'A prodigy, a book of wonders. Wonder, pity and terror, the searing section of voices in transit coercing compassion - and beyond that, empathy' Independent
Home is where you start from, but where is a swallow's real home? And what does 'native' mean if the English oak is an immigrant from Spain?
In ninety richly varied poems and illuminating prose interludes, Ruth Padel weaves science, myth, wild nature and human history to conjure a world created and sustained by migration - from the millennia-old journeys of cells, trees, birds and beasts to Geese battle raging winds over Mount Everest, lemurs skim precipices in Madagascar and wildebeest, at the climax of their epic trek from Tanzania, braving a river filled with the largest crocodiles in Africa.
Human migration has shaped civilisation but today is one of the greatest challenges the world faces. In a series of incisive portraits, Padel turns to the struggles of human displacement - the Flight into Egypt, John James Audubon emigrating to America (feeding migrant birds en route), migrant workers in Mumbai and refugees labouring over a drastically changing planet - to show how the purpose of migration, for both humans and animals, is survival.
In this series, a contemporary poet selects and introduces a poet of the past. By their choice of poems and by the personal and critical reactions they express in their prefaces, the editors offer insights into their own work as well as providing an accessible and passionate introduction to some of the greatest poets of our literature.
Sir Walter Ralegh, poet, scholar, soldier and explorer, travel-writer, historian and favourite courtier of Queen Elizabeth I, was born in Devon around 1552, knighted in 1584, imprisoned twice in the Tower of London, where he wrote his History of the World, and executed in 1618. Many famous poems attributed to him, like "The Passionate Man's Pilgrimage", may not actually be his. But, like the many poems written to him by the Queen and others, they testify to what Ralegh stood for in the Elizabethan age, as a poet and a man.
This was my home. This harbour and sea. These golden alleys. But the town I grew up in has disappeared.
Ri is a successful international artist who has worked in London all her life. When her English husband dies she turns to her Greek roots on Crete, island of mass tourism and ancient myth, only to discover they are not what she thought. As Brexit looms in the UK, and Greece grapples with austerity and the refugee crisis, she finds under the surface of her home not only proud memories of resisting foreign occupation but a secret, darker history. As an artist, she has lived by seeing and observing. Now she discovers how much she has not seen, and finds within herself the ghost of someone she never even heard of. Unearthing her parents' stories transforms Ri's relationships to her family and country, her identity and her art.
Lyrical, unsettling and evocative, Daughters of the Labyrinth explores the power of buried memory and the grip of the past on the present, and questions how well we can ever know our own family.
From the author of the bestselling Darwin: A Life in Poems, Ruth Padel’s new collection follows in the footsteps of one of the world’s greatest composers, Beethoven, and investigates what his life and music might mean to us today
Two hundred and fifty years since Beethoven was born, Ruth Padel goes on a personal search for him, retracing his steps through war-torn Europe of the early nineteenth century, delving into his music, letters, diaries and the conversation books he used when deaf, to uncover the man behind the legend. Her quest, exploring the life of one of the most creative artists who ever lived, turns more personal than she expects, taking her into the sources of her own creativity and musicality. From a deeply musical family herself, Padel’s parents met through music, and she grew up playing chamber music on viola – Beethoven’s instrument as a child. Her father’s grandfather, a concert pianist born on the German–Danish border, studied in Leipzig with a friend of Beethoven before immigrating to the UK. The poems in this illuminating biography in verse conjure not only Beethoven’s life and personality, but her own music-making and love both of the European music-making tradition to which her father’s family belongs, and to the continent itself Europe.
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY DARWIN'S GREAT-GREAT-GRANDDAUGHTER, RUTH PADEL
When the eminent naturalist Charles Darwin returned from South America on board the H.M.S Beagle in 1836, he brought with him the notes and evidence which would form the basis of his landmark theory of evolution of species by a process of natural selection. This theory, published as The Origin of Species in 1859, is the basis of modern biology and the concept of biodiversity. It also sparked a fierce scientific, religious and philosophical debate which still continues today.
'Making is our defence against the dark...'
Through images of conflict and craftsmanship, Ruth Padel’s powerful new poems address the Middle East, tracing a quest for harmony in the midst of destruction. An oud, the central instrument of Middle Eastern music , is made and broken. An ancient synagogue survives attacks, a Palestinian boy in a West Bank refugee camp learns capoeira, and a guide shows us Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity during a siege. At the heart of the book are Christ’s last words from the Cross.
Uniting this moving collection is the common ground shared by Judaism, Christianity and Islam: a vision of human life as pilgrimage and struggle but also as music and making. With care and empathy, Ruth Padel suggests how rifts in the Holy Land speak to conflict in our own hearts. 'We identify. Some chasm / through the centre must be in and of us all.'
Beautiful, disturbing and a pleasure to read, Ruth Padel's new poems are her most ambitious yet, adding animal legend and zoological science to her glitteringly imaginative canvas. With her gift for bringing together experiences and tones of voice that normally stay far apart, she sweeps us from Dulwich Pizza Hut to ancient Siberia, King's Cross to nineteenth-century Burma. We meet Socrates, urban foxes, Louisiana alligators and the endangered Amur leopard in poems resonating with sensuous delight in nature, but also with history and loss.
Finally, a Chinese painter searches for tigers in a forest doomed to the sawmill while the minister who sold it scoffs an aphrodisiac bowl of tiger-penis soup.
Hallucinatory and lyrical, passionately musical, seething with life, The Soho Leopard explores our human need for wildness- and also for stories, wherever we find them. A wonderfully ferocious new collection from one of our most exciting poets.
Fusewire has the fierce historical awareness and linguistic energy of Ruth Padel's previous collections but moves into new territory and new clarity. Poems on British activity in Ireland through the ages intrude on an intensely moving series of love poems which reverse sexual clichés of colonisation: here Britain is female and Ireland the high-profile man.
From the prize-winning poet of Rembrandt Would Have Loved You, Voodoo Shop and The Soho Leopard, all shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize.
Beautifully illustrated and exquisitely musical, Tidings is a poem to be read out loud and cherished.
‘Come with me
to St Pancras Old Church, on a little London hill...’
It’s Christmas Eve and on this enchanted night Charoum, the Angel of Silence, can speak. As night turns to day, he unfolds a resonant story of a little girl, a homeless man and a fox...
In the tradition of Charles Dickens and Dylan Thomas, Tidings takes us on a journey into the heart of Christmas, showing us celebrations down the ages and across the globe – as dawn sweeps from East Australia to Bethlehem, from London to the Statue of Liberty in New York.
This is Christmas in all its magic, reminding us that it is a time not only of good tidings, but of loneliness and longing, compassion and connection.
Ruth Padel's passionate new collection is a woman's eye view of a love affair, with darker undercurrents of mortality and loss. Shifting between vulnerability and guilt, innocence and doubt, tenderness and frustration, teasing reproach and the exaltation of deep love and sexual happiness, Padel's extraordinarily bold and intimate book explores the complexity of emotions that go with falling in love.
Wonderfully versatile in tone, it blends the lyrical and the colloquial, formality and wit, myth and the Spice Girls. It includes the poem that won the 1996 National Poetry Competition 'Icicles round a tree in Dumfriesshire'.
In these extraordinary poems, using multiple viewpoints - from Darwin himself, to his beloved wife Emma, and even, at one point, the orangutang at London Zoo - Ruth Padel illuminates the development of Darwin's thought, the drama of the discovery of evolution, and the fluctuating emotions of Darwin the husband, the naturalist and the tender father, in a powerful tribute to her famous ancestor.
Shortlisted for the 2009 Costa Poetry Award.