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Missel-Child

Helen Tookey

Cover of Missel-Child by Helen Tookey
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This title is available for academic inspection (paperback only).
Paperback
ISBN: 978 1 847772 18 3
Categories: 21st Century, British, First Collections, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: January 2014
211 x 140 x 8 mm
80 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: eBook (Kindle), eBook (EPUB)
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  • Missel-Child

    The lady of the moon is in travail,
    her white face waxen as the missel-fruit.

    The gravelled path gives way to broken angles,
    burials of water. Follow it.

    Creep into the hospice of the yew,
    its pale lying-place. Curl up there. Wait.
    According to the seventeenth-century herbarium The Garden of Eden, a ‘missel-child’ is a mysterious being found beneath a mistletoe-covered tree – a changeling, perhaps, ‘whereof many strange things are conceived’. Helen Tookey’s first full collection of poems starts from the missel-child to explore archaeologies of identity, place and language. She is a formally inventive writer, using collage and syllabics, exploring elegy and myth. The poems in this book create a space in which language enables something to be said and also to be shown.
    I

    Then is it true 
    At Burscough, Lancashire 
    Prints 
    Estuarine 
    Shavuot 
    Cockleshells 
    Poem for Sabine 
    Magnolia 
    Among Alphabets 
    Fox-Seers 
    Autumn Child 

    II

    Missel-Child 
    Unadopted 
    Funeral and Fox 
    At the Castle 
    Water, its Voicings 
    Katherine 
    In a Richer Mine 
    Shilling Visit 
    Cedar 
    Among the Gods (Persephone) 

    III

    Male Nude by R.B. Kitaj 
    Mono 
    Portrait of a Young Woman 
    With Joe on Silver Street
    Der Tod in Venedig 
    The Hardened Criminals of Tomorrow 
    When I was quite small I would sometimes dream 
    Miss Yamada Has Gotten Married 
    America 
    A long war, and now the returning 

    IV

    Fosse Way 
    Hollow Meadows 
    Persephone in Adiyaman 
    Philadelphus 
    Rheidol Valley 
    Priest 
    Heron 
    In the dying days of the year we walked 
    Secret Name 
    Climbing the Hill at Sunset 

    Notes 
    Helen Tookey was born near Leicester in 1969. She isnow based in Liverpool, where she teaches creative writing at LiverpoolJohn Moores University. She studied philosophy and English literature at university, and has published critical work about writers including Anaïs Nin and Malcolm Lowry. Her debut collection Missel-Child (Carcanet, 2014) was shortlisted ... read more
    Awards won by Helen Tookey Short-listed, 2019 The Forward Prize for Best Collection (City of Departures) Short-listed, 2015 Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry Prize for First Full Collection (Missel-Child)
    'Missel-Child is an exceptional volume. Some of the subject-matter is found, some comes from a powerful and intelligent imagination and from keen observation. All is embodied in a language that is sensuous and strong.'
    Jeffrey Wainwright
    'The diction is unexpected, apt and deeply satisfying, focusing the reader not only on the words chosen, but also on the ghosts and resonances of those that might have been there.'
    Carola Luther
    'Her quiet, precise poems have a genuine eeriness. She has interests in both archaeology and psychology, but knows intuitively that they aren't separate -- that when we dig up the past it's our own roots we are looking at.'
    Grevel Lindop
    Praise for Helen Tookey 'The poems are finely crafted and closely observed, describing somewhat unsettling, dream-like landscapes and places of memory, deserted streets in European cities, or taking artworks and objects as inspiration and points of departure... [The] rejection of borders is a fitting ending to a collection that challenges formal and aesthetic boundaries, and engages with a range of European artistic influences to offer a vision of 'belonging as not-belonging' in the face of certain and chaotic political times.'

    Sophie Baldock, The Manchester Review 

    'Reading this book can feel like sliding into that sunken world. Strange things float beneath its beautiful surfaces'
    Tristram Fane Saunders, The Telegraph
    'The city in Tookey's City of Departures is full of the excitements of history and chance, and the chances taken to make a kind of radiant sense of the world, in all its breakings-down and might-have-beens, which is exactly what, time and again, these beautiful poems do.'
    Jacob Polley
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