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The Hat-Stand Union
ISBN: 978 1 847771 64 3
Categories: 21st Century, British, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: July 2012
216 x 137 x 9 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: eBook (Kindle), eBook (EPUB)
Digital access available through Exact Editions
Playful in earnest, Caroline Bird in her fourth book of poems turns familiar stories on their heads. Adrift in a surreal world of the everyday, Bird’s protagonists declaim Chekhov in supermarkets, purchase mail-order tears, sing love-songs to hat-stands. At the centre of the collection Bird evokes the sinister side of Camelot, haunted by the experiments of its crazed tyrant-king. Bird’s characters and voices are at once savvy and vulnerable; underlying the exuberance is empathy with those who have lost themselves somewhere along the way. The everyday world of The Hat-Stand Union is beautiful, ominous and full of surprise.
1 MYSTERY TEARS
The Dry Well
A Dialogue between Artist and Muse
Hey Las Vegas
9 Possible Reasons for Throwing a Cat into a Wheelie Bin
There Once Was a Boy Named Bosh
Thoughts inside a Head inside a Kennel inside a Church
The Only People in Paradise
How the Wild Horse Stopped Me
The Island Woman of Coma Dawn
2 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMELOT
I. A Confident Local Youth
II. Some Last Words
III. Urchin Who Is Stalking Guinevere’s Scullery Maid
IV. Camelot Estate Agent
V. Exiled Journalist Disguised as Shrub
VI. Arthur’s Crab-Boy Vision Faces Scalpel Practicalities
VII. Crab Quotes
IX. Raving King Speech
X. Lancelot’s Poetry Reading in Smoky Bar
XI. Arthur, Arthur, Arthur...
XII. A Disgruntled Knight
3 SEA BED
This Was All About Me
2:19 to Whitstable
To Whom It May Concern
What Shall We Do With Your Subconscious?
I’m Sorry This Poem Is So Painful
The Stock Exchange
The Last House
The Fun Palace
Marriage of Equals
Awards won by Caroline Bird Short-listed, 2017 The Ted Hughes Award for New Poetry (In These Days of Prohibition) Short-listed, 2017 The T.S. Eliot Prize (In These Days of Prohibition) Commended, 2004 Christopher Tower Poetry Prize Winner, 2000 Simon Elvin Young Poet of the Year Award Winner, 1999 Simon Elvin Young Poet of the Year Award Winner, 2002 Eric Gregory Award Winner, 2004 Peterloo Poets Competition (16-19 year-olds) Winner, 2003 Peterloo Poets Competition (16-19 year-olds) Winner, 2002 Peterloo Poets Competition (16-19 year-olds) Short-listed, 2001 Geoffrey Dearmer Prize Short-listed, 2008 Dylan Thomas Prize for young writers
'A carnival of characters spills out of these poems, chased by paparazzi, doing somersaults and cartwheels with language... Caroline Bird puts us on the inside looking deeper in, under the glittering skin to the place where laughter begins, where mothers are children, where people feel pain and speak in tongues, where tongues are knives and "Someone still has to stay here and die".'
Imtiaz Dharker 'Bird is irrepressible; she simply explodes with poetry. The work erupts, spring-loaded, funny, sad, deadly - you don't know if a bullet will come out of the barrel or a flag with the word BANG on it.'
Simon Armitage Praise for Caroline Bird 'If for Wallace Stevens poetry was the 'Supreme Fiction', Robert Lowell argued 'why not say what happened?' Bird, however, grabs Confessionalism by the throat to produce a surreal if formally controlled autobiography.'
Julian Stannard, The Poetry Review
'Caroline Bird's is an unquestionably vigorous and original voice'
Suzannah V. Evans, The TLS
'Bird is a master of bleak humour interlaced with wry social commentary.'
'Caroline Bird's In These Days of Prohibition is equally pleasurable and disturbing, because it understands the genuinely strange ground on which we must build our thoughts and our emotions. In work of great and frequently comic poise it captures moments of absolute loss of control, and absolute freedom. We recognise that sustained unsettling comic virtuosity is the startling agent by which we engage with such loss, such freedom.'
- W.N Herbert (Chair of the 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize Judging Panel) 'Achieves serious funniness by filtering mental illness and addiction through the prism of pop-surrealism.'
Jeremy Noel-Tod, The Sunday Times
'Since she published her debut aged 15 in 2002, Bird's witty writing has been wrongly dismissed in some quarters as lightweight. This brave eighth collection (a slant account of her year in rehab) proves those critics wrong from its first page.'
Tristram Fane Saunders, The Daily Telegraph
'The poems in this, Bird's fifth collection, explode on the page, bristling with a vision of sanity within madness, order within chaos. She has the ability to describe a tortured soul in a twenty-first century manner, bringing humour, contemporary idiom and irony into the work.'
Dundee University Review of the Arts
'The poems of In These Days of Prohibition are disquieting: institutionalised, hedonistic, vacuous and nihilistic. The collection takes a hard look at contemporary society but is, ultimately, uplifting. If Brett Easton Ellis wrote poems, I'd like to think they'd be poems like these.'
John Field on the 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize shorlist newsletter
'Her poems burst with linguistic energy.'
Stephen Knight, Times Literary Supplement 'An astonishingly assured piece of work.'
Ruth Padel, Financial Times 'What an original captivating and spellbinding voice. Bird is fearless like 'the girl who dropped her ice-cream down a volcano and leaped in after it'. She's dangerous and witty too with a rare quality of imagination. This is a wonder, a beautifully written book of poems.'
'Her poems burst with linguistic energy, and the book is profligate with striking lines and images.'
Times Literary Supplement
'The tone fuses knowing innocence and integrity; some poems are faux naif with a ballad lilt, others are sad, funny surreal; all are studded with fresh imaginative insights.'
Ruth Padel, Financial Times
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