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Categories: 21st Century, British, Second Collections, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (80 pages)
(Pub. Feb 2021)
eBook (EPUB) Needs ADE!
(Pub. Feb 2021)
(Pub. Feb 2021)
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In 1878, in London, a woman served a prison sentence for deserting two of her children, a charge she denied. Almost nothing else is known of her life or that of her husband, a dealer in 'foreign birds and curiosities', who was himself a migrant. The two children vanished from the record.
This is where Fleet begins, with elusive histories and lost voices. The title suggests imperial power, conquest, traffic in commodities (which in the nineteenth century included vast numbers of exotic birds). It is shadowed by other meanings: the fleeting glimpse and swift flight; floating memories, enigmatic and insistent.
Judith Willson's second book of poems was written during years when migration and displacement have become central facts of the human condition. The collection works outwards from found text – historical documents, archive materials – into other places and times. In the silences of such records, their erasures and omissions, are stories that haunt our present.
'Effortlessly transportive... This is rich, heady verse, evocatively catapulting the reader through time and space'
The Poetry Book Society Spring Bulletin
'This atmospheric collection shows how history can be brought to life. One individual, though forgotten in time, is remembered through Willson's thoughtful poetry and prose'
Sue Wallace-Shaddad, The Alchemy Spoon
'The collection is pervaded by a profound sense of the unknowability of the past, but its vitality nonetheless... an extraordinary poetic meditation'
Anatomies of Power, Christopher Smith
'There's a real fluidity, a real haunting, a real fairy tale-like feeling to this collection... Beautiful on every level. I just loved it.'
Jasmine Reads, YouTube
'Fleet is an important book: it seeks to recover lost voices and sharpen our awareness of imperial cruelty and exploitation, while unveiling a future in which the once most powerful species is itself endangered ... Willson is the kind of writer who has a gift for bringing research alive, and infuses sparse facts with mystery and pathos.'
Carol Rumens, The Guardian where The Human Voice from a Distance was Poem of the Week w/c 1st March 2021
Praise for Judith Willson 'These poems glitter and intrigue, with a high strike-rate, a sophisticated polish on words.'
Dilys Wood, Artemis Poetry
'It is a poetry of settlement, of attending to the artistic voices including your own, and contemplating their artefacts as is only possible in a civilised condition. How it might view such things as governmental cruelty or the history of brutality, is suggested through the careful development of figurative language.'
Peter Riley, Fortnightly Review
'She gets everything right: beautiful, fulsome vocabulary, arresting images, and perfect control of tone and metre. She is thoughtful and exact. These poems have clearly seen many reworkings. I'm reading this book greedily...I know I'll come back to it again.'
Charlotte Wetton, The Kindling Journal
'Judith Willson's taut, meditative, richly imagined debut collection ... is an on-going interplay between a speaking us and a silent them, between multiple artworks and their multiple subjects: not just one single crossing of the mirror line, but several.'
Stephen Grace, Eborakon
Judith's poem 'A Bone Flute' from her debut collection Crossing the Mirror Line was Guardian Poem of the Week on 8th January 2018
'Judith Willson's poetry takes us, in a dazzling flow of images, to lives which have the solidity of Central European fairytale with all the frightening reality of history behind them. Richly inventive in form and precise in tone, this is an amazingly assured debut collection.'
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