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ISBN: 978 1 903039 81 6
Categories: 21st Century, First Collections, Women
Published: May 2007
216 x 135 x 5 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
We think we know that space is silent,
only the words of astronauts reach us
as they stumble as if through water to place
flags while all the time light is escaping
faster than the fastest sand-storm.
from 'They Want Our Breath'
The glowing, painterly poems of Jenny Lewis's first collection take soundings in the depths: of the layers of the pasts that create a life, of the sources of self and creativity, of the structures beneath the surface. It is a region of loss and of recovery, the realm where memories are stored and poetry is made. Ghosts appear. An unknown father, the 'young South Wales Borderer' who died when Lewis was a few months old, bequeaths an irrecoverable sense of incompleteness to his child. Poems about being sent away to a Masonic school, aged seven, reflect the shadow that loss casts, while a later sequence suggests how the missing pieces may be recovered from the depths. Fathom is an intense and textured collection that leads the reader from surfaces to the heart of things. In the end is a sense of affirmation, where self is made whole.
'In this haunted and haunting collection, intuition leads cognition in a pas de deux of great power and beauty.'
Jon Stallworthy, Oxford Times 'Her poems delve into her own past, recalling with powerful specificity...'
Sarah Crown, Guardian
Praise for Jenny Lewis 'Taking Mesopotamia is easily the best collection of poetry I've read so far this year.'
Gareth Prior's blog 'Taking Mesopotamia -- a brilliantly ironic title for our times -- controls its anger through an accomplished and flexible technique in verse and prose. It is [...] an eloquent rejoinder to those who say poetry canât, or shouldn't, concern itself with public matters.'
Bernard O'Donoghue 'Taking Mesopotamia is a truly memorable piece of work. Lewis is an acutely attentive observer, but this is more than a poetic documentary â it lives as much in the ear as in the imagination, so well acoustically arranged that we cannot forget any of the voices in it.'
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