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Andrew McNeillie

Cover Picture of Slower
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (96 pages)
(Pub. Jul 2006)
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  • How they clutch at my heart,
    last year's birds' nests
    in the mind's bare branches
    this New Year's Day.
    Stuff in manuscript,
    ink-squiggle and thicket.

    from 'Hedge Fund'

    Slower, Andrew McNeillie's third collection, meditates on personal and natural history, nation states and mental states, violence, religion and poetry. It treats too of personal bereavement, and of love and marriage. The poem sequences at its core make connections between places, times and events, and meditate on continuities.

    The twenty-eight 'Glyn Dwr Sonnets' explore parallels between the campaigns of the Welsh hero and those of Osama Bin Laden, offering wry reflections on ideas of nation and belonging, and on the practice of writing poems. 'A Portrait of the Poet as a Young Dog' also plays to a Welsh tune, offering eleven sonnets on the author's wayward young manhood, while 'Arkwork' - with 'artwork' by Julian Bell - finds in the loss of the Stranraer-Larne ferry in January 1953, in which the 133 passengers and crew drowned, a focus for reflection on the literary history of shipwreck, death, and survival. At the book's close, the title poem looks towards a new future, in a meditation at an Irish wedding, with reflections on the Good Friday Agreement.
    Table of Contents



    In Memoriam Vernon Watkins (1956-1967)

    In Defence of Poetry

    The State of Play on the Rialto

    Thirty-Six Exposures

    To a Critic

    Portrait of the Poet as a Young Dog

    (i) Diana and Actaeon

    (ii) Hume's Enquiry

    (iii) For the Fallen

    (iv) Esse est percipi

    (v) A Vision of Reality

    (vi) L'Albatros

    (vii) Like a Rolling Stone

    (viii) i.m. Le Deuxième Sexe

    (ix) 'The Tree' Revisited

    (x) Northern House

    (xi) In Vaucluse

    News of Spring


    Shade at the Funeral

    Gone for Good

    Natural History

    The Fisher Widow

    Ends & Means

    Hedge Fund

    In Memoriam Carey Morris RA (1882-1968)

    Meditation on Armistice Day

    Glyn D^wr Sonnets

    (i) 'So he retreated...'

    (ii) 'At Pumlumon...'

    (iii) 'Mr De Valera's Hint to the English in Wales'

    (iv) 'Soon after, seething...'

    (v) Cynefin Glossed

    (vi) Owain's Poetics

    (vii) 'Prophecy' from Iolo Goch's Last Poems

    (viii) 9/18/1400

    (ix) A Monoglot Trout

    (x) 'When young Owain...'

    (xi) 'As if...'

    (xii) On the Study of Celtic Literature (1866)

    (xiii) Homage to Kyffin Williams

    (xiv) 'Mc maybe I am...'

    (xv) Ubi Sunt

    (xvi) On Burning the British Library

    (xvii) The Irish Question

    (xviii) 'Gwalia'

    (xix) Inferno: The Superhighway

    (xx) Purgatorio: The Long March

    (xxi) Paradiso: Dulyn, 1957

    (xxii) Wake for Owain

    (xxiii) For Diana, i.m. Mrs Glyn D^wr

    (xxiv) 'Suppose it had worked out?...'

    (xxv) Y Werin

    (xxvi) Aubade

    (xxvii) The Emerald Isle Express


    In Memoriam Edward Thomas (1878-1917)

    Homage to Patagonia

    (i) Mysterious Are the Ways of God

    (ii) Witness Lost Souls

    (iii) Against the Afflictions of the Taskmasters

    (iv) Several Families Came from the Slate-Quarrying Areas of North Wales...

    (v) The Thomases at San Tomis

    (vi) In Toil and Love

    (vii) Dream-Bird

    (viii) Cwm Hyfryd

    (ix) Songline for Chatwin

    (x) Qué Lindo Dia!

    (xi) Songline for Kyffin

    In Memoriam Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)

    Meditation in a Private Garden

    Dog Days

    Winter Thoughts


    Arkwork (with Artwork by Julian Bell)

    (i) Noah's Flood

    (ii) No Doubt

    (iii) 'No good? No good?'

    (iv) 'Two hours out...'

    (v) In Memory of David Broadfoot, Radio Officer

    (vi) May-Day

    (vii) Altogether Elsewhere

    (viii) A Cowshed High Up In the Alps

    (ix) Noah: The Complete Works

    (x) Art Lubber

    (xi) Covenant

    North Cluta

    (i) A Poacher's Handbook

    (ii) clutarche

    (iii) Andy Walker (Ploughman)

    (iv) i.m. Margaret Willson

    (v) Covenant

    (vi) The Carry

    (vii) For Great-Granny Elizabeth


    Quicker (Go Little Book)


    Andrew McNeillie was born in North Wales and read English at Magdalen College, Oxford before becoming an editor and publisher. For a key period in his life, he was literature editor at Oxford University Press. He has also held a chair in English at Exeter University where he is now Emeritus ... read more
    'A living poetic language flows, easy and slangy, the occasional poems which punctuate the later part of the collection are vitalized and real, among them elegies that remember mourning his father's death, and other deaths, which ring true, urged into being by poetry itself.'
    Gillian Clarke
    Praise for Andrew McNeillie 'Striking a Match in a Storm illustrates that McNeillie is one of Wales's leading modern poets, and his work ranks alongside that of Gwyneth Lewis, Robert Minhinnick, Gillan Clarke and Dannie Abse. No anthology of Welsh poetry will ever be complete again without a comprehensive selection of McNeillie's poetry.'
    PC Evans, Poetry Wales
    'The wind blows hard and the sea crashes through his poems, brilliant and evocative of the littoral... [a] multifarious collection. Striking a Match in a Storm demonstrates an outstanding nature writer at the helm of these poems.' 

    Dan McCarthy, Irish Examiner 

    'The finest poems here are witty and elegiac, comforting and cajoling and speak of pervading human concerns with a rare lyrical ease and quiet authority. McNeillie's special gift is for providing the pleasure that comes from recognition: we can see ourselves in his poems. The book carries an epigram from Wordsworth, and there is a Wordsworthian sense of audience and connection in this collection.'
    Times Literary Supplement
    'There is some extraordinary virtuosity here - in one poem, he finds 33 half-rhymes for 'envy'.
    John Greening, Country Life
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