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The State of the Prisons
ISBN: 978 1 857547 75 7
Categories: 21st Century, Irish, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: April 2005
216 x 135 x 5 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
One day, China met China in the marketplace.
'How are you, China?' asked China, 'we haven't talked in so long.'
China answered: 'The things we have to say to one another,
laid end to end, and side to side,
would connect the Great Wall with the Three Gorges Valley
and stretch nine miles up towards the sun.'
'It's true,' replied China. 'We have a lot to catch up on.'
In her third book of poems, Sinéad Morrissey builds on the achievement of her award-winning collection, Between Here and There, by expanding the lyric into new territories and admitting new voices. The theme of imprisonment is variously addressed: in the actual prisons of eighteenth-century Europe; in the prison of our own limited perceptions of experience, particularly of other cultures when abroad; in the prison of the mortal human body itself.
Alongside the intimate interiors of human relationships, the poems are also interested in broader discourses, particularly history, and range in scope from the Royalist convictions of a woman wearing a Scold's Bridle during England's interregnum, to the story of the number zero. Form and content, as well as the personal and the political, are blended throughout this collection with imagination and consummate skill. As in her previous two books, travel remains a source of inspiration: one exhilarating poem details, in nine 'chapters', a six-thousand-mile train journey across China in which the conflicting faces of a rapidly changing country jostle for space. The collection ends with a compelling act of ventriloquism, as Morrissey recounts, in the first person, the life and works of the great prison reformer John Howard, and details his vision for the moral regeneration of the corrupted human soul.
The Second Lesson of the Anatomists
Little House in the Big Woods
The Gobi from Air
On Omitting the Word 'Just' from my Vocabulary
Reading the Greats
In Praise of Salt
The Wound Man
Aunt Sarah's Cupboards and Drawers
Driving Alone on a Snowy Evening
The Yellow Emperor's Classic
The State of the Prisons
Awards won by Sinead Morrissey Short-listed, 2017 The Forward Prize for Best Collection (On Balance) Winner, 2017 Poetry Book Society Choice (On Balance) Winner, 2009 T.S Eliot Prize
(The State of the Prisons) Winner, 2014 Irish Times Poetry Now Award
(Parallax) Short-listed, 2013 Forward Prize for Best Collection (Parallax) Joint winner, 2005 Michael Hartnett Award for Poetry
(The State of the Prisons) Short-listed, 2005 T.S. Eliot Prize
(The State of the Prisons) Winner, 2002 Rupert and Eithne Strong Award
(Between Here and There) Winner, 2002 MaCaulay Fellowship
Short-listed, 2002 T.S. Eliot Prize
(Between Here and There) Winner, 1996 An Eric Gregory Award
(There Was Fire In Vancouver) Winner, 1990 Patrick Kavanagh Award Short-listed, 2005 Irish Times Poetry Prize
(The State of the Prisons) Short-listed, 2005 John Llewellyn Rhys Commonwealth Literature Prize
(The State of the Prisons) Winner, 2005 Poetry Book Society Recommendation
(The State of the Prisons) Winner, 2007 Lannan Literary Fellowship
Winner, 2013 T S Eliot Prize for Poetry (Parallax) Winner, 2009 Poetry Book Society Choice
(Through the Square Window)
Praise for Sinead Morrissey 'Morrissey's clarity and confidence mean that On Balance approaches each of her subjects with great fluency and command' The Irish Times 'The outstanding poet of her generation.'
Stephen Knight, Independent 'In a year of brilliantly themed collections, the judges were unanimous in choosing Sinéad Morrissey's Parallax as the winner. Politically, historically and personally ambitious, expressed in beautifully turned language, her book is as many-angled and any-angled as its title suggests.'
Ian Duhig, Chair of the 2013 T S Eliot Prize Judges 'One of the most gifted of yet another generation of talented Irish poets.'
The Independent on Sunday.
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