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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
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: eBook (Kindle), eBook (EPUB)
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.
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.
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.
Then is it true
At Burscough, Lancashire
Poem for Sabine
Funeral and Fox
At the Castle
Water, its Voicings
In a Richer Mine
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
Persephone in Adiyaman
In the dying days of the year we walked
Climbing the Hill at Sunset
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