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In the Country of Birds
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (96 pages)
(Pub. Oct 2003)
I will open a volume of light and shadow
Where two streams meet. When I turn the pages I will go
Up through the forest to where trees thin to rowan and juniper,
Where holy writ is left behind with the jay's bravado.
There in the grass I might find a nest of lark's eggs.
The bird will soar through fear not joy; its song diverts
Come away! Come away! And so I will...
from 'In the Country of Birds'
These poems are the fruit of estrangement, in particular from origins. They draw on James Sutherland Smith's experiences of life in the Middle East and Middle Europe; what is most strange, they tell us, is not to be found in exotic locales, but close to home. The poems travel through foreign and domestic parts. They venture into nature, politics, and the self-discoveries and self-deceptions of sexuality. They evoke the allurements of the strange and revulsion at its brutalities. A poem may begin as a purposeful quest but find its meaning in falling by the wayside. It may set out in full possession of its wits and end the journey distracted and unsure. All the poems are marked by a fascination with language and are alive to the textures of the world.
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