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The Fourth Sister
Categories: 21st Century, British, Second Collections, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (72 pages)
(Pub. Feb 2023)
eBook (EPUB) Needs ADE!
(Pub. Feb 2023)
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A The Telegraph Book of the Year
Laura Scott's second collection, The Fourth Sister, is a book of unusual love poems. It features an assorted cast: lovers and sisters, but also parents and children, the living and the dead, birds and trees, painters, playwrights and their characters, a godfather who married the wrong man and a godmother who was surely a spy. The book's energy flows out into other lives, discovering vital connections and the gaps between them. Scott writes as a poet in Wordsworth's sense: 'an upholder and preserver, carrying everywhere relationship and love.'
Awards won by Laura Scott Winner, 2020 The Seamus Heaney First Collection Prize (So Many Rooms) Winner, 2020 East Anglian Book Award for Poetry
(So Many Rooms) Winner, 2015 Geoffrey Dearmer Prize for What I Saw Winner, 2014 Michael Marks Prize for What I Saw
'Laura Scott's poetry is clear, illuminating yet not uncomplicated: there is a mystery at its edges, a recognition of how life slips away, unbiddable, non-compliant.'
Kate Kellaway, The Observer
'Ariadne's thread runs through Laura Scott's second collection of poems. This is not, however, a thread that leads straightforwardly from outside the maze to the centre, or vice versa; rather, it seems to dance and leap across distance and time, reminding us that our internal and external worlds are always interconnected.'
Hilary Davies, TLS
'When this strategy is at its best, the poems not only unsettle but also, for all the oddness of the invention, are ultimately affecting a perhaps all the more so because emotion is reached so circuitously. The conceit at the heart of 'When Death Got Bored in the Hospital' is the strangest and most moving of all. Deathbed visitors talk until their voices turn 'into splints/in a parasol / shading us from the heat/of what was happening to you. The visitors struggle to keep the parasol open; death returns and smiles as the bird-decorated canopy collapses and the birds tuck their wings back into their bodies,/locking their pattern away into the blue creases. I have read nothing quite like this extraordinary poem.'
Stephen Knight, Literary Review
'The three-point structural arc given to many of the poems consists of a surprising set up, then a narrative development using unusual images and varying sentence length, and a precisely prepared ending. I think it might be this structure which makes the poems so deliciously satisfying to read.'
Tamsin Hopkins, The Alchemy Spoon
'Scott, however, is a listener. One achievement of her poetry collection The Fourth Sister - one of many - is the way she summons a tidal wave of talk, then surfs above it. Her style is effortlessly readable and lucid, her effects understated and slow-building, via garden-path sentences that end in extraordinary images. It's a book that rewards re-reading.'
Tristram Fane Saunders, The Telegraph
'Anton Chekhov's interrogative power of storytelling flows through Scott's dazzling second collection, which questions our obsession with conclusiveness... Her meticulously constructed poems exhibit a unique comic timing that gives them an elusive spontaneity.'
Kit Fan, The Guardian
'Like the birds which appear in motif throughout this collection, Laura Scott's poems can turn on a wing, startling us with their displays of unexpected beauty. Her graceful - and frequently grace-filled - poems call our attention to life's off-stage moments, illuminating shadowed corners of what might so easily be lost from view.'
'I so love Laura Scott's poems: elegant, taut, and both thrillingly curious and full of curiosity, they conjure their magic from that perfect space "between telling and withholding". In this beautiful, mysterious collection, she leads us into the dark woods of longing and grief, holding us rapt in the spell of the moment, until - like the fourth sister - she deftly "slips the story's collar".'
'Written with devastating precision, The Fourth Sister is filled with poems that move and grip in equal measure. It proves that Scott is one of the most exciting voices writing today in England.'
Praise for Laura Scott 'So Many Rooms showcases not only the breadth of Scott's knowledge but also her ability to create a sense of space and intimacy... What starts out as physical space becomes, over the course of the collection, an examination of the influences that shape us collectively and as individuals, crystallizing in what we come to think of as home in the material sense as well as in the habits and beliefs we carry with us through life, adding to or tweaking them like a collector of art or ceramics would.'
Margaryta Golovchenko, Medium 'Scott is subtle but persuasive... Throughout there's a mounting sense of a darker story below the opulent surface. Scott has the ability to make us see, and much to show us'
Emily Hasler, Poetry London
'Laura Scott's So Many Rooms is a confident and intricate collection dealing with relationships and memory. Cognizant of all the angles, alive to the smallest damage, to the bruises left on petals by the rain, Scott is a master of the slant take, the delicate phrasing. Her images both clarify and darken the matter at hand. In Scott's world, poems are "like fish / swimming inside you, / waiting for someone / to tap the glass."'
Seamus Heaney Centre First Collection Prize Judges 2020
'This quietly startling debut inhabits the least observed corners of life, and is affecting in mysterious and lasting ways.'
Carla Rose Manfredino, TLS
'There can be no doubt at all that this is an exceptional piece of work. Scott has the capacity to capture drama in a small number of words, neatly arranged. Her poetry, in this way, is the quintessence of poetry. Her clarity, concision and quiet ambiguity are yardsticks against which I find myself measuring other poets. Its confidence and its consistency both suggest a poet who has arrived. She offers a comprehensive vision. We are watching a poet composing at the height of her powers. It's not even September yet, but I suspect it might be my poetry book of the year.'
Joe Darlington, Manchester Review of Books
'I couldn't put it down and have kept returning to these poems, drawn in - and on - by their beauty and clarity. Her lyricism is like shot silk - it ripples with light.'
Kate Kellaway, The Guardian
'These are intimate poems, grounded, yet dreamlike, revealing the beauty, gravity and power at the core of the everyday. They're all the more compelling because it's as if the poems are allowed to make their own discoveries with the poet knowing exactly when to step back, and when and how to intervene.'
Moniza Alvi 'So Many Rooms is beguiling and lyrically persuasive. Scott's fine formal control and her mesmerising shifts of imagery underpin poems of sensual intelligence, thoughtfulness and poetic beauty.'
Sasha Dugdale 'So Many Rooms is not just a gathering of poems, but an intricate through-composed work in which images and stories are turned and refigured from page to page. These are short lyrics on big canvases - mythic, ambitious and richly engaging.'
Michael Symmons Roberts
'Concealing as much as they reveal, Laura Scott's eloquent fables combine acute attention to minutiae ('the creases in gloved fingers') with a beguiling sense of the world's unpredictability. These unerringly deft poems reveal what Marianne Moore once called the 'mystery of construction', bathing the everyday in a light both compassionate and uncanny. So Many Rooms is a startling debut collection from a formidably gifted young poet.'
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