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In Mortal Memory

Andrew McNeillie

In Mortal Memory
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Categories: 21st Century, Welsh
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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Paperback (72 pages)
(Pub. Feb 2010)
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(Pub. Feb 2010)
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  • What might be better days? Don't get me started.
    True and untrue to say they lie ahead
    as in the first line of a poem poised to be written.

    from 'In the Midst of Life'
    In Mortal Memory is a collection of lyric poems, celebratory if often melancholy, both elegiac and ironic. Affirming that life is ‘all becoming’ McNeillie mourns what that means in terms of loss and sorrow at time passing. The sea is a powerful presence, its meaning drawn both from the northern landscapes in which McNeillie’s work is rooted, and from the work of French poets, from Baudelaire and Hugo to Rimbaud and Corbière. The poems pitch up and down across formalities, against the idea of purity, while sustaining a rhyming, singing line.

    Cover painting: Giorgio de Chirico, The Nostalgia of the Poet,1914. Oil and charcoal on canvas, 35 5/16 x 16 in. (89.7 x 40.7cm). The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice1976,76.2553.65 © DACS 2009. Cover design

    Part I: Song in Winter
    Winter Song
    (i)    Chanson d’hiver
    (ii)    Road Closed    
    (iii)    Winter    
    (iv)    The Shadow of a Blackbird    
    (v)    O Wood!    
    (vi)    February Song    
    (vii)    Les Feuilles d’automne    
    (viii)    Uneven Song    
    (ix)    Tidings    
    (x)    Spinney    
    Boozy Weather    
    How Deep is the Ocean?    
    High and Dry    
    Les Poètes maudits    
    i.m. Juliette Drouet    
    Love in the Language Room    
    Le Rêve    
    Solo in New York    
    Summer Reading    
    My Death    
    Trick Cyclist    
    At 'The Oystercatcher', Portmahomack    
    Spring Campaign    
    The Rising of the Year    
    Great Leveller    
    Internal Exile    
    Botanical Gardens Revisited    
    Arctic Terns    
    Anno Domini 2007    
    Summer Migrant    
    The Big Snow    
    The Wild Thorn    

    Part II: At Sea
    The Voyage    
    from A Night on Whalsay    
    Netting the Scottish Fish    
    The Lilies of the Field    
    O Vos Omnes
        (i)    Baudelaire: 'Quelques caricaturistes français'   
        (ii)    Homage to K.D.    
        (iii)    i.m. Donato di Niccolo Donatello    
        (iv)    i.m. Sion Hill    
        (v)    End of the Line…    
        (vi)    Alms and the Man    
        (vii)    Bedside Reading    
        (viii)    Spleen et idéal    
    Cnut 2008    
    In the Midst of Life    

    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
    '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
    Praise for Andrew McNeillie 'Striking a Match in a Storm illustrates that McNeillie is one of Wales's leading modern poets, and his work ranks alongside that of Gwyneth Lewis, Robert Minhinnick, Gillan Clarke and Dannie Abse. No anthology of Welsh poetry will ever be complete again without a comprehensive selection of McNeillie's poetry.'
    PC Evans, Poetry Wales
    'The wind blows hard and the sea crashes through his poems, brilliant and evocative of the littoral... [a] multifarious collection. Striking a Match in a Storm demonstrates an outstanding nature writer at the helm of these poems.' 

    Dan McCarthy, Irish Examiner 

    '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
    'There is some extraordinary virtuosity here - in one poem, he finds 33 half-rhymes for 'envy'.
    John Greening, Country Life
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