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Dh Maitreyabandhu
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Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your Life
Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your Life
by Yiyun Li
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkably authentic voice, 4 Aug. 2017
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A remarkable 'new' voice! Well new to me at least. The essays are passionate and an instance of genuinely individual thought, reaching into profundity. I will now read the novels!


The Seasons of Cullen Church
The Seasons of Cullen Church
by Bernard O'Donoghue
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.38

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The quietest imaginable majesty, 30 Aug. 2016
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The poems in 'The Seasons of Cullen Church' have the quietest imaginable majesty about them. The simplicity, the seemingly casual language, the appearance of ease and the undemonstrative, completely un-flashy yet lovely syntax gives the poems an enviable and very subtle glow (in lesser hands they would be somewhat slight, or nostalgic). The best of the poems (and there's quite a few of them - more than most collections) are like essays in what really good writing is: there’s nothing flashy or show-offy or over-stated, nothing self-consciously poetic or super-serious and yet they have this very quiet majesty and terrible tragedy about them, sweetened and made more poignant by the humour. A wonderful collection by - surely - a major poet.


The Man With Night Sweats
The Man With Night Sweats
by Thom Gunn
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest, 27 May 2016
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On of the greatest book of poems of the twentieth century!


Fly Away Home
Fly Away Home
by Dame Marina Warner
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Urban grit and fairy story, 9 Dec. 2015
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This review is from: Fly Away Home (Paperback)
I’m deep into her short stories at the moment – a wonderful mix of the poignant and fantastical; a blend of urban grit and fairy story - crossing time and continents, fact and myth. Places the imagination can fly away home!


Fire Songs
Fire Songs
by David Harsent
Edition: Hardcover

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important wake-up call in, 14 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Fire Songs (Hardcover)
These poems are not for the faint hearted! They are not from the ‘school of nice feelings’ that Sean O’Brien lampooned when I interviewed him for Poetry East. This new, TS Eliot Prize winning collection, begins with 'Fire: a song for Mistress Askew' – a terrifying account of Anne Askew’s burning at the stake in 1546. 'Sang the Rat' contains the fearful lines ‘Rapacious like us prolific life us omnivorous like us prodigal like us/unremitting like us like us a killer of its own kind’. 'It will be fire' is a continual refrain throughout the collection. Reading David’s last three collections, starting with Legion, then moving on to Night (which won the prestigious Griffin International Poetry Prize), I’m struck by a mounting sense of catastrophe which in Fire Songs becomes fully apocalyptic – ‘My children’s children will stand outside the law, to wreck/ and break, to witness, to set fires, to fall on the weak.’ ('Fire: end-scenes and outtakes').

Described by John Burnside as ‘Probably the richest, most seductive and, at the same time, most rigorous imagination working in English poetry today’, David’s poetry takes the reader by the throat. The poems are often nightmarish, spot-lit with vivid detail, lurid, angry, with wonderful turns of phrase and different kinds of diction rubbing against each other and colliding to create fearful sparks of poetry. These poems are an important wake-up call in a complacent and increasingly divided world.


Smith: A Reader's Guide to the Poetry of Michael Donaghy
Smith: A Reader's Guide to the Poetry of Michael Donaghy
by Don Paterson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ideal guide to Michael Donaghy, 14 Jan. 2015
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This is a wonderful book! Don Paterson is the ideal guide to Donaghy's exemplary poetry - informative, open-minded, appreciative, with real knowledge of the man and the poems, unstuffy, and really bothered (in the best sense) by poetry.


The Weather Wheel
The Weather Wheel
by Mimi Khalvati
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.95

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mirror with a voice, 31 Oct. 2014
This review is from: The Weather Wheel (Paperback)
‘The Weather Wheel’ is the collection Mimi Khalvati was destined to write. It is her most complete and integrated collection to date. There is so much of her in it – in the same way there is so much of Bishop in Bishop’s poems, or Larkin in Larkin’s. This authentic sense of presence is a tribute to the poem’s truthfulness: for “nothing is lovely,/Not even in poetry, which is not the case.” (W.H. Auden).

Her first full-length collection for seven years, 'The Weather Wheel' consists 72 poems gathered into six subtitled sections, each section consisting of 12 poems. Each poem is 16 lines long and written in couplets. Together they exemplify Frost’s aphorism ‘Like a piece of ice on a hot stove, the poem must ride on its own melting.’ It’s as if Khalvati writes until the words themselves disappear and all we’re left with is stars and moon, tears and happiness, bicycles and pilgrims. They are, to quote Wallace Stevens, as ‘responsive/ As a mirror with a voice.’”


New Selected Poems: 1983-2008
New Selected Poems: 1983-2008
by John Fuller
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Celebration, 19 Sept. 2014
Reading Fiona Sampson’s survey of modern poetry, Beyond the Lyric, I’d been made aware of just how influential Fuller’s poetry and criticism is (which is one of the reasons that I invited him to Poetry East). So it was with considerable interest that I turned to his New Selected Poems. What I found there is a dazzling grasp of form – of meter and rhyme – combined with a wonderful lightness of touch, warmth, celebration, wit and poignancy. He seems to be able to find a poem in anything and everything seems to be worthy of his attention – from culture and music to children and stars. I took his book of 42 sonnets called Sketches from the Sierra de Tejeda with me to Spain and enjoyed their apparent simplicity – a celebration of geckos and olives and swallows.


I Knew the Bride
I Knew the Bride
Price: £5.89

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear as a bell, 20 May 2014
This review is from: I Knew the Bride (Kindle Edition)
I Knew the Bride has all the famous Hugo Williams’ hall-marks – clarity, wit, a strangely oblique view of life – but the charm of the poems, the willingness to please, has darkened into a feeling for loss, aging, pain and fragility. The collection starts with his lovely ‘New Year Poem’, with its characteristic surprise:

‘The day is difficult to start.
I leave it on the top of a hill
the night before.’

The collection moves on to a tender sequence of love poems: ‘Our room was a summer birdcage/swinging from a hook/on the sunny side of the street’ then darkens to the title poem, an elegy to his sister. The collection finishes with the deeply moving sequence ‘From the Dialysis Ward’, about his experience of being on dialysis, awaiting a kidney transplant. In these poems the charm and plain-spokeness are set against a growing feeling of desperation: ‘You’re lucky to be alive,/ but you don’t see it like that.’ He tries to joke with the nurses, tries to make the best of a bad job. The poems are determined to affirm life in the face of uncertainty, exhaustion and pain.


Essays on Departure: New and Selected Poems 1980-2005
Essays on Departure: New and Selected Poems 1980-2005
by Marilyn Hacker
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.95

5.0 out of 5 stars This is modern poetry! A poetry that connects, 13 April 2014
Although I’ve read individual poems before, this is the first time I’ve been able to absorb myself in her work. Born in New York and now living in Paris, her work is well known for it’s colloquial speech and formal invention. Jewish, feminist and lesbian, her poems connect the personal – love, breast cancer, AIDS, friendship, the street life of New York and Paris – with the political: bigotry, anti-Semitism, American foreign policy, war.

Reading her Essays on Departure: New and Selected Poems (Carcanet) and her most recent collection Names, what strikes me most is the humanity of the poems. They are exuberance, inclusive, bothered about life (in the best sense) and very candid. I’m especially drawn to her journal-like poems that spiral out from the act of writing to the street-life around her – the smell of potatoes frying in a nearby apartment, dustmen, an elderly lady who lives downstairs – into American political life, wars, immigrant, then back again to fears of aging or struggling with illness or the death of loved ones. This is modern poetry, almost a street poetry: it connects – bringing together the personal and the universal, the dark and light, the beautiful and the ugly, the tragedy and comedy of modern life.

Reading Marilyn’s poems, I’m left with that hallmark-feeling of really good poetry: after I put the book down, everything around me – the streets of Bethnal Green, walking to the Tube or the local park, coffee with friends – starts to feel like it might be poetry or might be becoming poetry. It’s as if Marilyn’s poem have touched the unseen, unvalued poetry of life – a sort of heightening of meaning and sense of connectedness in the face of the quotidian.


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