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Bricks and Ballads
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (96 pages)
(Pub. Sep 2004)
It is the wild cranesbill
Seed stolen from the hedge.
It opens mouths of warm blue
White whispers at its edge.
As in this strange wet summer
The sodden, tame rose lists
It glimmers light. As rain itself
It stubbornly persists.
It is the wild cranesbill.
The lost are gone with you.
It neither owns nor saves us.
Its cups glow clearest blue.
Ballads are memorable. This book was finished when the poet was fifty, with too much to remember: the shadows of the greater world, the bulldozers down the street tearing through a Victorian school, the generosity of its founders, its green graceful bell tower and its nesting jackdaws turned to a cry in the air.
The bricks go off to salvage and are lost in other streets but the poems remain. Ballads are bare and brief; tried by time. They salvage but they sing, stubbornly. Their stories are sure: a woman in the kitchen, Handel at his illicit feast, the Russian dog heading for space. Shakespeare stops for breath on the stairs. Mithras is the milkman. There are cats and wild cranesbill. The poems nudge us on.
Praise for Alison Brackenbury 'All Brackenbury's renowned qualities remain present in Thorpeness, such as her mastery of the lyric voice, her awareness of form, her ear for a line and her coupling of the natural and human world... Thorpeness invites the reader to reflect on how we face and express emotional truths in linguistic terms... a proper poet like Brackenbury never stops exploring and pushing their own boundaries.'
Matthew Stewart, Wild Court Poetry
'So many poems in this book begin with an item or a moment, flooding out to encompass a larger history. It's finely done, and Brackenbury proves again the enduring, treasure-like power of poetry, particularly by her expert pen.'
Mab Jones, Buzz Mag
'Thorpeness lays contemporary intonations across the patterns of folk song... Despite relishing past and present flavours, Brackenbury brings home the toughness of agricultural existence, rural poverty and life in service '
William Wootten, Literary Review
'Brackenbury's range as a poet continues to grow, just as her stanza forms become simpler and more pared-down. A growing engagement with inherited English culture allows her to question unspoken and given assumptions.'
M.C. Caseley, Agenda
'Brackenbury conjures a poetry that brings those frightening things into plain daylight, a poetry of the active life, of thrift and graft, of spirits that when pressed resort to sanity.'
'Brackenbury makes rhyming seem easy in work that is clever, controlled, eccentric and thoroughly British in both subject matter and tone.'
David Starkey, Santa Barbara Independent
'Brackenbury is a poet of strong feeling, deeply involved with her subject matter. That the work is cast with such craft and needs to do so little to draw attention to itself makes it all the more pleasurable.'
Jonathan Davidson, Poetry Review 'Alison Brackenbury's ninth collection of poems is a humble, often humorous, celebration of the everyday and the privileges of age.' - Harriet Barker, TLS 'It is her immediate response to the natural world happenings, the seasons, family and memories, and all life's incidentals that make her poems so easy to relate to.' - D. A. Prince, The North 'Filigreed with images of light and dark throughout, it's evocative, amusing and utterly compelling.'
Frances Lass, Radio Times 'Glorious'
Gillian Reynolds, Daily Telegraph 'Enchants'
The Times 'Alison Brackenbury loves, lives, hymns and rhymes the natural world and its people like no other poet.'
Gillian Clarke, National Poet of Wales
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