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That Stranger, the Blues

James Keery

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This title is available for academic inspection (paperback only).
ISBN: 978 1 857542 31 8
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: July 1996
215 x 135 x 8 mm
96 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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  •     When I was beginning to think the game was up,
        So late in the day, to distil from anxieties
        Something more accountable than dreams
        To allay the rational fear of losing ground.
        And courage wasn't called for, after all.
        It is the one you dream about that counts.
        This morning it was like breathing underwater.

    'Breathing Underwater'

    In That Stranger, The Blues, James Keery's first book of poems, there is an extraordinary fusion between a poetry of landscapes, indebted to Edward Thomas and Robert Frost, and the radical strategies of the poets of the New York and Cambridge schools. Understated, like watercolours in an age of gaudy acrylics, his lyric poems and his longer 'narratives' explore language and their subjects with passionate fidelity. Limiting himself to the verifiable and perceptible, his poems grow resonant with unaggressive clarities.

    As a critic, Keery is a lucid interpreter of writing from various apparently exclusive groups, camps or movements. His poetry is characterised by an equal openness. There is nothing imitative or magpie-ish in his gathering of energy and resource from the work of Michael Haslam, W.S.Graham, Philip Larkin or J.H.Prynne: it is simply that he refuses to subscribe to the general view of unbreachable divisions -- of geography, gender or poetics -- within our culture. Claiming access to the widest poetic territory, he brings an unusual discipline and an unusual freedom into play in his work.
    James Keery lives in Culcheth and teaches English at Fred Longworth High School in Tyldesley. Carcanet published That Stranger, The Blues in 1996 and his new edition of Burns Singer's Collected Poems in 2001. He is currently writing on J.H. Prynne (for Jacket) as well as on the Apocalypse and a ... read more
    Praise for James Keery 'Can I find fault with this anthology? I tried, but I was overwhelmed - it gives everything you could possibly ask for and travels to places which this reviewer did not know existed... Keery has found poets we didn't even know about... This recovery of the real story of the Forties is a unique achievement, but is also a rehearsal for the even larger project of recovering the whole history of 'alternative' poetry since 1937, and for the first time drawing a map of modern British poetry which is based on information rather than a wish to control the market'

    Andrew Duncan, Tears in the Fence

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