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RRP: GBP 7.99
ISBN: 978 1 784107 50 5
Categories: 21st Century, Art, British
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: June 2019
120 pages (print version)
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: eBook (EPUB), Paperback, eBook (Kindle)
The long title poem of John Greening’s The Silence is a meditation on Jean Sibelius and the thirty years he spent grappling with an eighth symphony, which in the end he probably burned. The poem is emblematic of a broader concern with the mystery of the creative process, explored here in the work of other artists but also grappled with first-hand, in the composition of poems. The collection is haunted by other kinds of silence too, especially that most emphatic one (notably in Greening’s witty formal verse letter, ‘Airmail for Chief Seattle’ and an Egyptian sequence based on wall paintings in the British Museum), but at the same time it is open to the bright potentiality of the unknown, the beyond. A tribute to the late Dennis O’Driscoll is a bold meditation on hope, a mood intensified in a series of uplifting Hölderlin translations. Elsewhere, Greening visits the Peak District, Brecklands, chalklands and a lost world of highwaymen and mythology beneath the runways of Heathrow, tuning in to the special music of each place. Along the way are striking individual poems on trees, penny coins, Hilliard miniatures, a coal bunker, a totem pole, the X5 bus route and musical migrating geese.
Awards won by John Greening Winner, 2001 TLS Centenary Winner, 1998 Bridport Award Winner, 2008 Cholmondeley Award
'It's a loving and inventive meditation on the sources of creative inspiration; the vagaries of artistic confidence... Greening immerses us in the radiant muddle in which Sibelius found himself during the last three decades of his life.'
Frank Beck, The Manhattan Review
'Historical encounters are handled with superb formal control, their power coming from the combination of almost surreal imaginative coincidences with a purity of diction'
William Bedford, The High Window
'This is an intelligent, satisfying collection and, appropriately for poetry where one of the main subjects is a musician, it is consistently musical'
Alwyn Marriage, London Grip
'Beyond the admirable craftsmanship that characterises almost all of his work, one of Greening's great strengths is his historical imagination.'
Glyn Pursglove Praise for John Greening 'Delightfully alert to connections and intersections, to historical ironies... [Greening is] a serious (but never excessively solemn) poet, who cares about both 'facts' and ideas and makes his poetry out of the interpenetration of the two.'
Glyn Pursglove 'So to conclude calamity in rest.' In his powerful new collection, John Greening opens lines of communication with poets of the Great War, bridging a century with heart-work of immediacy, economy and humanity.'
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