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The Hat-Stand Union

Caroline Bird

The Hat-Stand Union by Caroline Bird
RRP: GBP 9.95
Available from: Amazon LogoBuy now from Amazon
eBook (Kindle)
ISBN: 978 1 847777 64 5
Categories: 21st Century, British, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: July 2013
96 pages (print version)
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: Paperback, eBook (EPUB), eBook (PDF)
Digital access available through Exact Editions
  • Description
  • Author
  • Contents
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • 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.


    '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

    'Caroline Bird has always written wise, bitterly funny and intellectually bracing poems.What has developed over the course of four collections is a voice heartbreaking in vision while simultaneously consoling in its constant and inspired invention.'
    Luke Kennard

    '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
    1 MYSTERY TEARS
    Sealing Wax
    Username: specialgirl2345
    Mothers
    Snow Hotel
    Unacceptable Language
    Mystery Tears
    Method Acting
    The Dry Well
    A Dialogue between Artist and Muse
    Hey Las Vegas
    Genesis
    9 Possible Reasons for Throwing a Cat into a Wheelie Bin
    Day Room
    Faith
    Dolores
    There Once Was a Boy Named Bosh
    Thoughts inside a Head inside a Kennel inside a Church
    The Only People in Paradise
    Fantasy Role-Play
    Empty Nest
    Spat
    How the Wild Horse Stopped Me
    The Island Woman of Coma Dawn

    2 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMELOT
    Prologue
    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
    VIII. You
    IX. Raving King Speech
    X. Lancelot’s Poetry Reading in Smoky Bar
    XI. Arthur, Arthur, Arthur...
    XII. A Disgruntled Knight

    3 SEA BED
    Damage
    This Was All About Me
    2:19 to Whitstable
    Break-up Party
    Two Cents
    Run
    Sea Bed
    Public Detectives
    Facts
    To Whom It May Concern
    Screening
    The Promises
    Say When
    Kissing
    What Shall We Do With Your Subconscious?
    Limerence
    Medicine
    Izzy
    Conqueror
    Atheism
    I’m Sorry This Poem Is So Painful
    The Stock Exchange
    The Last House
    The Fun Palace
    Marriage of Equals
    Corine
    Caroline Bird is a poet and playwright. Her 2017 collection, In These Days of Prohibition, was shortlisted for the 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize and the Ted Hughes Award. A two-time winner of the Foyle Young Poets Award, her first collection Looking Through Letterboxes was published in 2002 when she was ... read more
    Awards won by Caroline Bird Winner, 2020 The Forward Prize for Best Collection (The Air Year) Short-listed, 2020 Costa Poetry Award
    (The Air Year)
    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 'It is one of the most generous and open-hearted books of the year.'

     Rishi Dastidar, The Guardian Best Poetry Books of 2020

    'The Air Year impressively distills existential truths into its rollicking lines... Bird's writing is both ambitiously expansive and intimate as a heartbeat.'

    Khairani Barokka, Under the Radar

    'All shiny and exciting... Many of Bird's speakers are in a free-fall of existential despair... searching for a moment of happiness that feels uncomplicated, and can last'

    Jenna Clake, Poetry London

     'Bird's poetry is undeniably funny [...] Readers will fall in love with [the] writing for her fresh and strange imagery.'

    Oxford Poetry Library, where Bird's collection was Book of the Month for September 2020

    'As a reader, The Air Year gives me hope that maybe we can write and read our way out of whatever mess is splashed in our faces as we float around this increasingly weird world - as impossible as that seems.

    There is no doubt about how prescient The Air Year is - even the title could act as a sobriquet for the pandemic. So, we are left with everything up in the air and, as we sit tight in our homes, we're all just hoping that, if we ever land, there'll be something worth landing on.'

    Peter Raynard, The Poetry School

    'Bird is direct about her desires and her shortcomings in her poems, refusing to shy away from the details of sex, mental health, suicide ideation or addiction. At the same time, there is lightness and whimsy in the chaos'

     Diva Magazine


    'The Air Year is surreal and satirical but beneath all this levity, lies a candid vulnerability.'

    PBS Spring 2020 Bulletin 

    'Her phrasemaking is sublime... it's superb'
    Tristram Fane Saunders, February Telegraph Book of the Month 2020
    'Caroline Bird is a poet like no other, always prepared to shower us in meteors of linguistic playfulness, in a frightening game of hide and seek. We don't always need to understand every explosion of emotion to feel the power and passion. These poems are screenshots, epic movies, ground-breaking nuggets of prose, and something else we can't even find words for. The Air Year is a fantastic, intimate, disturbing and beautiful tour de force.'
    Pat Edwards, London Grip
    '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.'
    Poetry London
    '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 in 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.'
    Lemn Sissay
    '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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