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Art of Escape
RRP: GBP 9.99
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Price: GBP 8.99
This title is available for academic inspection (paperback only).
ISBN: 978 1 784108 82 3
Categories: 21st Century, BAME, British, First Collections, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: January 2020
216 x 135 x 6 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: eBook (Kindle), eBook (EPUB)
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Among Mina Gorji's poems in New Poetries V (2011) was one about Houdini entitled 'The Art of Escape' which returns here as the title poem. This colourful and vivid first collection continues the course of Mina Gorji's meticulous explorations of 'the strange and sometimes darker side of nature' and the different forms and meanings of escape: dandelions crossing the ocean, the journey of a gall wasp from Aleppo to England, the transformation of an armadillo into music. These poems shift by degrees until new patterns and sounds emerge, transforming the familiar into unexpected configurations. Art of Escape is a wonderful casting off into the complex waters of adult life, in which change has become the constant.
'A long closing prose-poem about her family is the only break from this tight-knit, short-lined style. But the tighter the squeeze, the more impressive the escape - as proven in the title poem, an elegy for Houdini ("even the outside/ couldn't hold him long")'
Tristram Fane Saunders, January Telegraph Book of the Month 2020
'Here are poems of unsparing clarity, inward, unflinching, each one an acute canticle of remembrance. Together, they form a choral work magnifying the small and the seemingly insignificant, whether that is the lives of insects and plants, or in another key, the emigrant's journey from Iran to England, all are brought into intense focus. These mighty little songs, not at ease with the ongoing injustices of our imperial culture, refuse despair. They refuse by inventing forms of escape. The collection affirms the imagination is the place of moral grace. Art of Escape marks the beginning of a splendid new voice in British poetry.'
'Mina Gorji's poems take small, careful steps over a treacherous terrain, securing their meanings with steady intent. 'When danger looms / it imitates the reeds' she says of the bittern. Deceptively straightforward statement mingles with natural lore and observation to create complex, delicate structures. Her creatures are too autonomous to be parables and yet they share a threatened exilic space with human culture. Protective coloration, ink, quill, spine and 'armament of shell': the poems themselves assume the curious shapes necessary for their survival.'
Jamie Mckendrick 'With these luminous, tender, yet tough poems and prose pieces Mina Gorji is building a place of safety - for herself, her family, her readers, and all those who are wandering and uprooted; her poetic methods take their cue from the many marvellous creatures she evokes and the multiple protective measures they adopt - nests, camouflage, mimicry, display. Above all, language can help create shelter. As she writes in the poem called 'Kamasutra (the subsidiary arts)', skills with words are 'arts of love'.'
'Her poems resemble the curious animals they seek to represent - enigmatic, sometimes armour-plated, inviting yet also protective of their inner mysteries.'
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