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City of Departures

Helen Tookey

Cover of City of Departures by Helen Tookey
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Categories: 21st Century, British, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (88 pages)
(Pub. Jul 2019)
9781784107598
£9.99 £8.99
eBook (EPUB) Needs ADE!
(Pub. Jul 2019)
9781784107604
£7.99 £7.19
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  • Description
  • Author
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • Shortlisted for The 2019 Forward Prize for Best Collection

    City of Departures is Helen Tookey’s second Carcanet collection, following her 2014 Missel-Child, an ‘exceptional volume... from a powerful and intelligent imagination’ (Jeffrey Wainwright). City of Departures is a collection of uncanny spaces and fleeting encounters, an urban patchwork of glimpsed moments and chance affiliations. Through them, Tookey explores the ways in which we create meaning and connection in these kinds of spaces, and how the nature of those connections - often temporary and provisional - affects who we are, and who we are becoming.

    Tookey’s work has a new formal inventiveness and experimental temperament. The collection mixes prose and verse, and a multitude of voices and structures mingle on its pages. The poems connect through repeated images, themes and tones, which echo and re-echo. Their loci are neglected houses and gardens, canals, wrecked boats... liminal worlds where absence has a presence of its own, fertile ground for ghosts, fantasies, memories, and dreams.
    Helen Tookey was born near Leicester in 1969 and now lives in Liverpool. She studied philosophy at university and subsequently worked in publishing. She currently teaches creative writing at Liverpool John Moores University. She has published two previous poetry collections with Carcanet Press, Missel-Chil d (2014, shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney ... read more
    Awards won by Helen Tookey Short-listed, 2019 The Forward Prize for Best Collection (City of Departures) Short-listed, 2015 Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry Prize for First Full Collection (Missel-Child)
    'Narratives describing strange, sometimes dreamlike, episodes from a female protagonist's childhood dominate the second section of Helen Tookey's four-part collection of poems and prose poems, City of Departures ... The narrative is clear and secretive at the same time: it prompts questions.'

    Carol Rumens from The Guardian where 'In the Rose Garden' was poem of the week on 3rd Feb 2020

    'For Helen Tookey, place becomes a series of intense encounters with the territories of European artists, in which their settings or personalities - and the poet's - mingle or erode... The book combines poems and prose in a compelling zone of stark atmospheres and richly observed interiors.'

    W. N. Herbert, The Poetry Review


    'The poems are finely crafted and closely observed, describing somewhat unsettling, dream-like landscapes and places of memory, deserted streets in European cities, or taking artworks and objects as inspiration and points of departure... [The] rejection of borders is a fitting ending to a collection that challenges formal and aesthetic boundaries, and engages with a range of European artistic influences to offer a vision of 'belonging as not-belonging' in the face of certain and chaotic political times.'

    Sophie Baldock, The Manchester Review 

    'Reading this book can feel like sliding into that sunken world. Strange things float beneath its beautiful surfaces'
    Tristram Fane Saunders, The Telegraph
    'The city in Tookey's City of Departures is full of the excitements of history and chance, and the chances taken to make a kind of radiant sense of the world, in all its breakings-down and might-have-beens, which is exactly what, time and again, these beautiful poems do.'
    Jacob Polley
    Praise for Helen Tookey 'There is an apocalyptic fear coursing through these poems, electrifying them with an often heart-breaking and urgent apprehension of ecological crisis. Through visiting and revisiting, Helen Tookey examines places with a sharp eye, both philosophical and painterly, asking us to attend to their vulnerabilities, their mystery. Behind these carefully made poems, Tookey gives us access to something infinite and disturbing. Delicate, eerie, anxious, prophetic and cinematic, In the Quaker Hotel is a haunting record of our times.'

    Seán Hewitt, author of Tongues of Fire

    '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
    '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
    '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
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The Carcanet Blog PN Review 266: Editorial read more Ian Pople: Spillway: New and Selected Poems read more Peter Sansom: Lanyard read more PN Review 265: Under the Cover with Gregory O'Brien read more PN Review 265: Editorial read more Patrick Worsnip: On Translating Saba read more
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