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Set Thy Love in Order
New & Selected Poems
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
eBook (EPUB) Needs ADE!
(Pub. Jul 2017)
Paperback (168 pages)
(Pub. Jun 2017)
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Set Thy Love in Order: New & Selected Poems gathers the work of some thirty years, taken from Stephen Romer’s four previous collections, along with a substantial selection of new poems.
The title is a Dantesque imperative as old as the Trecento: Ordina questo amore, O tu che m’ ami – set thy love in order, o thou who lovest me. Romer’s central theme is encapsulated by these words, and his prolonged and painstaking exploration of the ‘intermittences of the heart’, frequently carried out with a Francophile self-consciousness and rueful wit, constitute so many variations on the theme.
Romer’s New & Selected articulates the constant oscillation between love, loss and longing, and the religious desire for ‘refuge’ or ‘higher things’, and how powerfully these can come to rhythm the life of the mind and the emotions. His more recent work has included poems of love and mourning for his parents, and elegies for friends.
Derek Mahon singled out Romer’s first collection Idols for its ‘emotional candour and intellectual clarity’, and since then the poet has endeavoured to turn the light of the intellect (and the wit) on the frequently chaotic and contradictory material of the heart.
'Stasis is the great enemy of a mind as active as Romer's and his poems are often a means of avoiding it, except when by some conjuring trick they attempt to arrest time... This is a book of elegant benedictions that allow for ecstasy and its opposite, and are fitting, memorable companions for either.'
Declan Ryan, TLS
'Reading Romer's poetry will leave you with a sense of calm and clarity because this long serving poet has developed a technical control that allows even for mysticism without rattling the bodily cage too much'
Claire Crowther, Magma
'A characteristic blend of self-examination and what feels like a classically trained sense of beauty, clarity and proportion. There is something Bergman-esque about Romer's work.'
Praise for Stephen Romer 'Stephen Romer has achieved a breakthrough in these new poems. The death of his father has torn away a veil, releasing a fresh energy and vision.'
Hugo Williams 'If Tribute is haunted by aphasia, exile and the loss of continuity, those fears are shadows that give body to the essences more insistently dwelt upon, and these are apprehended with a depth of spiritual resource that is almost mystical.'
Clive Wilmer on Tribute, in Times Literary Supplement 'Austerely eloquent treatments of lost love and the complexities of family are juxtaposed with reflections on art and poetry - exactly the civilised range of interests that might strike fear into the incurious. Readers open to Romer's scrupulous, passionate music and the conversational intimacy of his address will gather rich rewards, however.'
Sean O'Brien, Culture, 11 January 2009
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