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Helen Tookey

Cover of Missel-Child by Helen Tookey
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ISBN: 978 1 847772 18 3
Categories: 21st Century, British, First Collections, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: January 2014
211 x 140 x 8 mm
80 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: eBook (Kindle), eBook (EPUB)
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  • Excerpt
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  • Missel-Child

    The lady of the moon is in travail,
    her white face waxen as the missel-fruit.

    The gravelled path gives way to broken angles,
    burials of water. Follow it.

    Creep into the hospice of the yew,
    its pale lying-place. Curl up there. Wait.
     Shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry Prize for First Full Collection 2015

    According to the seventeenth-century herbarium The Garden of Eden, a ‘missel-child’ is a mysterious being found beneath a mistletoe-covered tree – a changeling, perhaps, ‘whereof many strange things are conceived’. Helen Tookey’s first full collection of poems starts from the missel-child to explore archaeologies of identity, place and language. She is a formally inventive writer, using collage and syllabics, exploring elegy and myth. The poems in this book create a space in which language enables something to be said and also to be shown.

    Her quiet, precise poems have a genuine eeriness. She has interests in both archaeology and psychology, but knows intuitively that they aren’t separate – that when we dig up the past it’s our own roots we are looking at.
    Grevel Lindop

    The diction is unexpected, apt and deeply satisfying, focusing the reader not only on the words chosen, but also on the ghosts and resonances of those that might have been there.
    Carola Luther

    Missel-Child is an exceptional volume. Some of the subject-matter is ‘found’, some comes from a powerful and intelligent imagination and from keen observation. All is embodied in a language that is sensuous and strong.
    Jeffrey Wainwright

    Then is it true 
    At Burscough, Lancashire 
    Poem for Sabine 
    Among Alphabets 
    Autumn Child 


    Funeral and Fox 
    At the Castle 
    Water, its Voicings 
    In a Richer Mine 
    Shilling Visit 
    Among the Gods (Persephone) 


    Male Nude by R.B. Kitaj 
    Portrait of a Young Woman 
    With Joe on Silver Street
    Der Tod in Venedig 
    The Hardened Criminals of Tomorrow 
    When I was quite small I would sometimes dream 
    Miss Yamada Has Gotten Married 
    A long war, and now the returning 


    Fosse Way 
    Hollow Meadows 
    Persephone in Adiyaman 
    Rheidol Valley 
    In the dying days of the year we walked 
    Secret Name 
    Climbing the Hill at Sunset 

    Helen Tookey was born near Leicester in 1969. She studied philosophy and literature at university and currently teaches Creative Writing at Liverpool John Moores University. Her short collection Telling the Fractures , a collaboration with photographer Alan Ward, was published by Axis Projects in 2008. Her verse was anthologised in New ... read more
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