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Selected Poems

Thomas Blackburn

Edited by Julia Blackburn

Cover Picture of Selected Poems
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Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (96 pages)
(Pub. Jan 2001)
£12.99 £11.69
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  • ...Darkness, feathers are shed;
    From this bird-whitened stone,
    I watch a cormorant pluck
    Life from a nervous sea,
    With a moon behind my back,
    Conscious of God knows what
    Anxious irrelevance
    As these birds swim in the eye
    Of the green circumstance
    From which I am undone
    By my duplicity.

    from 'Trewarmett'

    Thomas Blackburn was haunted. His child-hood was dominated by an obsessive father (an Anglican priest of Mauritian descent) who scoured his face with peroxide to lighten his skin, and an over-affectionate mother. Moral and sexual uncertainties form the core of his poetry and prose. In a creative life interrupted by bouts of alcoholism and ill health, he wrote into the 1970s, developing an intimate and confessional voice of great power.

    He began to publish in the late 1940s, combining writing with two other passions: mountain climbing and spiritualism. Notable collections include The Outer Darkness (1951), The Holy Stone (1954), The Next Word (1958), and A Smell of Burning (1961). The poet was regarded as having 'gone off', overwhelmed by Jung and Yeats. A Selected Poems appeared in 1975, and the posthumous Bread for the Winter Birds in 1980. His autobiography, A Clip of Steel (1969), is an unsparing self-portrait.

    Thomas Blackburn
    Thomas Eliel Fenwick Blackburn was born in Cumbria in 1916. Educated at Durham University, he was Gregory Poetry Fellow at Leeds University (1956-8), and head of the English Department at the College of St Mark and St John, Chelsea (1960-73). He wrote novels, memoirs, musicals and plays for radio, as well ... read more
    Julia Blackburn
    Julia Blackburn is the daughter of the poet Thomas Blackburn and the painter Rosalie de Meric. She has written two novels (both shortlisted for the Orange Prize), a memoir The Three of Us (winner of the JR Ackerley Award), a collection of poems, Murmurations of Love, Grief and Starlings (Full Circle, ... read more
    Praise for Julia Blackburn 'Blackburn is an idiosyncratic writer who never takes the beaten path to the heart of her subject ... There is humour here, a fresh quizzical eye on the artist and a lucid appreciation of what the pair gave each other and what they took.'

    Lucy Hughes-Hallett, The Oldie

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