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Andrew Motion


Andrew McNeillie

Cover Picture of Nevermore
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Imprint: OxfordPoets
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (264 pages)
(Pub. Nov 2000)
£6.95 £6.25
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  • Never a Joseph, nor even a shepherd or wise man
    but some surly angel, train-bearer,
    or escort to a king, without a line to spin,
    to fill a tableau or swell a curtain call,
    so fitting them for life far better than
    brief village stardom might. Enter, shuffling,
    as if nudged into view by war's statistics:
    History's full-backs and reserves.
    Cannon fodder talent-spotted early.

    from 'Extras'

    Nevermore is an elegy for lost times and threatened things. It celebrates recollection and the 'immortality of youth', and youth's passions: for natural history (as in the group of bird poems entitled 'Plato's Aviary'), for the naive curiosity and lust of adolescent 'love', for adventuresome escape (as in the docu-poem rhapsody 'Lines from an Aran Journal'), and for the elusive prize of poetry itself.

    The poems traffic across borders, between the 1950s and 1960s and the present, between Wales, Scotland and Ireland, fish and fowl, coastal town and wilderness, material realities and
    transcendent dreams, and confused claims of cultural identity, Welsh and Scottish and neither.

    Nevermore speaks from a world where family as rural tribe, rooted in place, has given way to a rootless diaspora, its history at risk of erasure, for worse, and for better. It is post-United Kingdom, in a spirit that, if it could make anything happen, would will the good republic into being.
    Andrew McNeillie was born in North Wales and read English at Magdalen College, Oxford before becoming an editor and publisher. For a key period in his life, he was literature editor at Oxford University Press. He has also held a chair in English at Exeter University where he is now Emeritus ... read more
    Praise for Andrew McNeillie 'A living poetic language flows, easy and slangy…the occasional poems which punctuate the later part of the collection are vitalized and  real, among them elegies that remember mourning his father’s death, and  other deaths, which ring true, urged into being by poetry itself.'
    Gillian Clarke
    'The  finest poems here are witty and elegiac, comforting and cajoling and speak of pervading human concerns with a rare lyrical ease and quiet authority. McNeillie’s special gift is for providing the pleasure that comes from recognition: we can see ourselves in his poems. The book carries an epigram from Wordsworth, and there is a Wordsworthian sense of audience and connection in this collection.'
    Times Literary Supplement
    'There is some extraordinary virtuosity here – in one poem, he finds 33 half-rhymes for 'envy'.
    John Greening, Country Life
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