An exquisite collection from a poet at the peak of her powers, A God at the Door spans time and space, drawing on the extraordinary minutiae of nature and humanity to elevate the marginalised. Extending the territory of her zeitgeist collection Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods, these new poems traverse history, from the cosmic to the everyday. There is a playful spikiness to be found in poems like ‘Why the Brazilian Butt Lift Won’t Save Us’, while others, such as ‘I Found a Village and in it Were All Our Missing Women’, are fed by rage. As the collection unfolds, there are gem-like poems such as ‘I Carry My Uterus in a Small Suitcase’ which sparkles on the page with impeccable precision. Later, there are the sharp shocks delivered by two mirrored poems set side by side, ‘Microeconomics’ and ‘Macroeconomics’. Tishani Doshi’s poetry deploys beauty to heal trauma, enabling the voices of the oppressed to be heard with piercing clarity. From flightless birds and witches, to black holes and Marilyn Monroe, A God at the Door illuminates with lines and images that surprise, inflame and dazzle.
Maura Dooley was Poet-in-Residence at Jane Austen s home in Chawton, Hampshire. The house, now a museum, is where Austen wrote most of her novels. These poems offer glimpses of Austen’s still potent presence in the modest house in which, at a tiny table, she wrote her greatest works.
A Vertical Art gathers the expansive and spirited public lectures delivered by Simon Armitage during his acclaimed four-year tenure as Oxford University Professor of Poetry. Armitage tries to identify a ‘common sense’ approach to an artform that can lend itself to grand statements and vacuous gestures, questioning both the facile and obscure ends of the poetry spectrum, asserting certain fundamental qualities that separate the genre from near-neighbours such as prose and song lyrics, examining who poetry is written for and its values and use in contemporary society. Above all, these are personal essays that enquire into the volatile and disputed definitions of poetry from the point of view of a dedicated reader, a practising writer and a lifelong champion of its power and potential.
An Aviary of Small Birds is both elegy to a stillborn son and testament to the redemptive qualities of poetry as a transformative art. The book opens at the birth, which paradoxically becomes the moment of death when, after a long labour and an emergency caesarean, the baby’s heart gives out. For the mother, her body flooded with endorphins, euphoria gives way to shock, followed by an intense and visceral grief. However, just as grief itself is not linear, so too the book follows an emotional rather than a strictly chronological arc, lyric rather than narrative. At the same time, McCarthy Woolf’s formal experimentation allows an intellectual and metaphysical line of enquiry to emerge. Ultimately, it is a closely felt connection with the natural world, particularly with water and birds, that allows the author to transcend the experience and honour the spirit of her son.
Anna, Molly, Ming, Caroline, Helen: the Old Friends.
Since adopting their official name aged eleven, they have seen each other through careers, children, illnesses, marriage, divorce, addiction, fame, fall outs.
But now, Anna – fiercely loved mother and friend, and the Old Friends’ glue – is diagnosed with cancer again, and this time, tired of recoveries and relapses, pitying looks and exhausting regimes, she simply says: no more.
As her health declines, the politics of the still lived-in world merge with memories of the past while each Old Friend tries to accept the truth of what is happening: they are losing someone they cannot imagine life without.
Before Everything is a celebration of friendship and love between a group of wonderful women.
“The crafted sincerity of this potent, lyrical collection, in which an absolutely contemporary voice concisely expresses common concerns, is everything that poetry should be.” Times Literary Supplement
Carol Ann Duffy’s first Collected Poems includes all of the poems from her nine acclaimed volumes of adult poetry – from Standing Female Nude to Ritual Lighting (2014) – as well as her much-loved Christmas poems, which celebrate aspects of Christmas: from the charity of King Wenceslas to the famous truce between the Allies and the Germans in the trenches in 1914. Endlessly varied, wonderfully inventive, and emotionally powerful, the poems in this book showcase Duffy’s full poetic range: there are poems written in celebration and in protest; public poems and deeply personal ones; poems that are funny, sexy, heartbroken, wise. Taken together they affirm her belief that ‘poetry is the music of being human’.
From his home in a West Yorkshire village proverbially associated with cuckoos, Simon Armitage has been probing the night sky with the aid of a powerful Russian telescope. The sequence of eighty-eight poems at the heart of CloudCuckooLand springs from this preoccupation, each poem receiving its title from one of the constellations, while turning out to be less concerned with pure astronomy than with moments in the life of the poet’s mind.
In this epic novel, Sjón has woven ancient and modern material into a singular masterpiece – encompassing genre fiction, history, theology, folklore, expressionist film, poetry, comic strips, myth, drama and, of course, the rich tradition of Icelandic storytelling.
In this stunning anthology Carol Ann Duffy has selected 99 poems exploring parenting.
The special bond between parent and child is both powerful and unique. And yet there is a time when that bond must ease, where our grip on that dear one must loosen, when we must let them go whether we are ready to or not.
In Shivanee Ramlochan’s first collection of poems, Trinidad and Caribbean poetry finds an exciting new voice, one that displays a sharp intelligence, and iconoclastic spirit and fertility of imagination. Ramlochan’s poems take the reader through a series of imaginative narratives that are at once emotionally familiar and compelling, even as the characters evoked and the happenings they describe are heavily symbolic.
In this, her first poetry collection since the award-winning Countries of the Body, Tishani Doshi returns to the body as a central theme, but extends beyond the corporeal to challenge the more metaphysical borders of space and time. These new poems are powerful meditations born on the joineries of life and death, union and separation, memory and dream, where lovers speak to each other across the centuries, and daughters wander into their mothers’ childhoods. As much about loss as they are about reclamation, Doshi’s poems guide us through an ‘underworld of longing and deliverance’, making the exhilarating claim that through the act of vanishing, we may be shaped into existence again.
In Feminine Gospels, Carol Ann Duffy draws on the historical, the archetypal, the biblical and the fantastical to create various visions – and revisions – of female identity. Simultaneously stripping women bare and revealing them in all their guises and disguises, these poems tell tall stories as though they were true confessions, and spin modern myths from real women seen in every aspect – as bodies and corpses, writers and workers, shoppers and slimmers, fairytale royals or girls-next-door.
Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods is Tishani Doshi’s third book of poems, following two earlier, highly praised collections, Everything Begins Elsewhere, published by Bloodaxe in 2012, and her debut, Countries of the Body, winner of the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Tishani Doshi has been shortisted for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry for Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods and for her accompanying dance performance of the title poem.
Gumiguru is the tenth month of the Shona calendar – a month of dryness and heat before the first rains fall and rejuvenate the land. Togara Muzanenhamo’s second collection is a cycle of poems distilling the experiences of a decade into one calendar year, framed through the natural and agricultural landscapes of Zimbabwe. The book stands as both an elegy for the poet’s father and a hymn to the veldt, the farms and villages, and the men and women whose lives are interwoven with the land and the changing seasons.
In I Speak for the Devil, the woman’s body is a territory, a thing that is possessed, owned by herself or by another. Her sequence, They’ll say, ‘She must be from another country’ traces a journey, starting with a striptease where the claims of nationality, religion and gender are cast off, to allow an exploration of new territories, the spaces between countries, cultures and religions.
The title-sequence speaks for the devil in acknowledging that in many societies women are respected, or listened to, only when they are carrying someone else inside their bodies – a child; a devil. For some, to be “possessed” is to be set free.
In These Days of Prohibition is Caroline Bird’s fifth Carcanet collection. As always, she is a poet of dark hilarity and telling social comment. Shifting between poetic and vulgar registers, the surreal imagery of her early work is re-deployed to venture into the badlands of the human psyche. Her poems hold their subjects in an unflinching grip, addressing faces behind the veneer, asking what it is that keeps us alive. These days of prohibition are days of intoxication and inebriation, rehab in a desert and adultery for atheists, until finally Bird edges us out of danger, ‘revving on a wish’.
Radio Castle, the voice of Jerusalem. Your local news broadcast from the bed of housebound ex-fireman, John Edward. His son doesn’t want to join the family business, and his wife is in love with the town’s ex-policeman, but Radio Castle continues to broadcast despite everything life throws at John Edward. When the coveted position of Entertainment Secretary at the Jerusalem Social Club comes up, only one man stands between John Edward and his dream – a certain ex-policeman. As two old adversaries square up, who will get the girl and who will get the job?
This dark musical comedy premiered at West Yorkshire Playhouse in November 2005.
To mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy brings together a dazzling array of contemporary poets (sixty in fact) to write about each of the sixty years of Her Majesty’s reign. An all star line up – which includes such celebrated writers as Simon Armitage, Gillian Clarke, Wendy Cope, Geoffrey Hill, Jackie Kay, Michael Longley, Andrew Motion, Don Paterson and Jo Shapcott, alongside some of the newest young talent around – address a moment or event from their chosen year, be it of personal or political significance or both. Through a series of specially commissioned poems, Jubilee Lines offers a unique portrayal of the country and times in which we have lived since 1953, culminating in an essential portrait of today: the way we speak, the way we chronicle, the way we love and fight, the way we honour and remember. Brilliantly introduced by Carol Ann Duffy, Jubilee Lines is an unforgettable commemoration: not only a monarch’s reign but of a way of life.
Imtiaz Dharker was born in Pakistan, grew up in Glasgow, and now divides her time between Bombay and London. Her main themes are drawn from a life of transitions: childhood, exile, journeying, home, displacement, religious strife and terror. She is also an accomplished artist, and all her collections are illustrated with her drawings. Leaving Fingerprints is her fourth book of poems and drawings from Bloodaxe.
In these poems, the only thing that is never lost is the Bombay tiffin-box. All the other things which are missing or about to go missing speak to each other – a person, a place, a recipe, a language, a talisman. Whether or not they want to be identified or found, they still send each other messages, scattering a trail of clues, leaving fingerprints.
Maura Dooley’s poetry is remarkable for embracing both lyricism and political consciousness, for its fusion of head and heart. These qualities have won her wide acclaim. Helen Dunmore (in Poetry Review) admired her ‘sharp and forceful’ intelligence. Adam Thorpe praised her ability ‘to enact images for complex feelings…Her poems have both great delicacy and an undeniable toughness…she manages to combine detailed domesticity with lyrical beauty, most perfectly in the metaphor of memory ‘ – Literary Review. These poems take in the physical landscape, family and friendship, as well as the transience of both folklore and politics. In part, an attempt to speak of what is submerged, they welcome that ‘splash of cold water to the face’ that tells us we’re alive.
Caroline Bird at first appears to be a traditional story-teller. But the stories she tells are suspended, charged with metaphor, and built upon foundations strangely familiar: fairy tale, fantasy and the sweet-bitter world of romance. The further one reads in her haunted tales, the more remarkable becomes the variety of forms, metres and rhythms she uses, and the clearer their appropriateness. Things are not ever as they seem, and the poems bring us closer to how the world ‘really’ is for this talented teenager. They work metaphorically through our expectations and prejudices, which she rearranges and reanimates (‘with a step/in your dance, a forecast for lightning’), or those that relate to the world of childhood (‘I came to see if you were okay’) where language itself has never quite got a grip. In the poems of Caroline Bird gender politics are starkly redefined, as are the languages with which generations communicate and fail to agree.
Imtiaz Dharker was born in Pakistan, grew up a Muslim Calvinist in a Lahori household in Glasgow, was adopted by India and married into Wales. Her main themes are drawn from a life of transitions: childhood, exile, journeying, home, displacement, religious strife and terror, and latterly, grief. She is also an accomplished artist, and all her collections are illustrated with her drawings, which form an integral part of her books. Luck is the Hook is her sixth book from Bloodaxe. In these poems, chance plays a part in finding or losing people and places that are loved: a change in the weather, a trick of language, a bomb that misses its mark, six pomegranate seeds eaten by mistake; all these events cast long shadows and raise questions about who is recording them, about believing, not believing, wanting to believe. A knot undone at Loch Lomond snags over Glasgow, a seal swims in the Clyde, a ghost stalks her quarry at a stepped well, an elephant and a cathedral come face to face on the frozen Thames, a return ticket is thrown into the tide of Humber, strangers wash in. Even in an uncertain world, love tangles with luck, flights show up on the radar and technology keeps track of desire. Imtiaz Dharker was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2014 for her fifth collection Over the Moon and for her services to poetry.
Growing up in Marsden among the hills of West Yorkshire, Simon Armitage has always associated his early poetic experiences with the night-time view from his bedroom window, those ‘private, moonstruck observations’ and the clockwork comings and goings in the village providing rich subject matter for his first poems. Decades on, that window continues to operate as both framework and focal point for the writing, the vastness of the surrounding moors always at his shoulder and forming a constant psychological backdrop, no matter how much time has elapsed and how distant those experiences.
Magnetic Field brings together Armitage’s Marsden poems, from his very first pamphlet to new work from a forthcoming collection. It offers personal insight into a preoccupation that shows no signs of fading, and his perspective on a locality he describes as ‘transcendent and transgressive’, a genuinely unique region forming a frontier territory between many different worlds. Magnetic Field also invites questions about the forging of identity, the precariousness of memory, and our attachment to certain places and the forces they exert.
In her prize-winning fourth collection, Mean Time, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy dramatizes scenes from childhood, adolescence and adulthood, finding moments of grace or consolation in memory, love and language amid the complexities of life. These are powerful poems of loss, betrayal and desire.
Explosive political satire and acerbic wit leap from stage to page in this hotly anticipated debut collection from Luke Wright. ‘Mondeo Man’ celebrates and laments a country of disappearing pubs, celebrity anti-heroes and motorway service stations, perfectly capturing the English idiom at the turn of the 21st century.
Reykjavik, 1918. The eruptions of the Katla volcano darken the sky night and day. Yet despite the natural disaster, the shortage of coal and the Great War still raging in the outside world, life in the small capital goes on as always.
Sixteen-year-old Máni Steinn lives for the movies. Awake, he lives on the fringes of society. Asleep, he dreams in pictures, the threads of his own life weaving through the tapestry of the films he loves.
When the Spanish flu epidemic comes ashore, killing hundreds of townspeople and forcing thousands to their sick beds, the shadows that linger at the edges of existence grow darker and Máni is forced to re-evaluate both the society around him and his role in it.
“Nosebleed is the first time you feel alien to yourself, even as a child, so imagine how I felt, when this came out.”
Isaiah Hull’s Nosebleeds is visceral and raw, a voice far older than the poet’s young years, exploring family, life, and the real world. Hull’s writing is soul-searching and down to earth, Nosebleeds an exploration of expression, traversing emotion and form. It is hard-hitting poetry, written to be spoken aloud but making the transfer to the page with remarkable ease and clarity.
Over the Moon is Imtiaz Dharker’s fifth book from Bloodaxe. These are poems of joy and sadness, of mourning and celebration: poems about music and feet, church bells, beds, cafe tables, bad language and sudden silence. In contrast with her previous work written amidst the hubbub of India, these new poems are mostly set in London, where she has built a new life with – and since the death of – her husband Simon Powell.
When Simon Armitage burst on to the poetry scene in 1989 with his spectacular debut Zoom!, readers were introduced to an exceptional new talent who would reshape the landscape of contemporary poetry in the years to come. Now, twenty-five years on, Simon Armitage’s reputation as one of the nation’s most original, most respected and best-loved poets seems secure. Paper Aeroplane: Poems 1989-2014 is the author’s own selection from across a quarter-century of work, from his debut to the latest, uncollected work. Drawing upon all of his award-winning poetry collections, including Kid, Book of Matches, The Universal Home Doctor and Seeing Stars, this generous selection provides an essential gathering of this most thrilling of poets, and is key reading for students and general readers alike.