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Capildeo awarded Poetry Book Society Winter Choice 2021
Wednesday, 22 Sep 2021
We're delighted to announce that Vahni Capildeo's forthcoming collection Like a Tree, Walking is the PBS Winter Choice for 2021, and Owen Lowery's final collection The Crash Wake and other Poems is the Wild Card.
Selectors Andrew McMillan, Anthony Anaxagorou and Sarah Howe have chosen an incredible range of experimental, emerging and established poets to feature in the winter poetry parcel for PBS members.
Choice: Vahni Capildeo, Like a Tree, Walking (Carcanet)
Recommendations: Polly Atkin, Much With Body (Seren)
Harry Josephine Giles, Deep Wheel Orcadia (Picador)
Lila Matsumoto, Two twin pipes sprout water (Prototype)
Stephanie Sy-Quia, Amnion (Granta)
Special Commendation: Ian Duhig, New and Selected Poems (Picador)
Translation Choice: Tua Forsstrom, I walked on into the forest: poems for a little girl, translated by David McDuff
Wild Card: Owen Lowery’s Crash Wake and other Poems (Carcanet)
Huge congratulations to all!
Vahni Capildeo's Like a Tree, Walking is a fresh departure, even for this famously innovative poet. Taking its title from a story of sight miraculously regained, this book draws on Capildeo's interest in ecopoetics and silence. Many pieces originate in specific places, from nocturnes and lullabies in hilly Port of Spain to 'stillness exercises' recording microenvironments – emotional and aural – around English trees. These journeys offer a configuration of the political that makes a space for new kinds of address, declaration and relation.
Capildeo takes guidance from vernacular traditions of sensitivity ranging from Thomas A Clark and Iain Crichton Smith to the participants in a Leeds libraries project on the Windrush. Like a Tree, Walking is finally a book defined by how it writes love.
In February 2020, ventilated tetraplegic poet Owen Lowery and his wife, Jayne, were travelling to Scotland when their vehicle aquaplaned, spun round on the motorway, hit a barrier, flipped over the barrier and rolled over several times, before coming to rest on its side in a field. Having barely survived, Lowery emerged into a world transformed by the coronavirus, one in which life and death had moved closer. During his months of recovery from three brain bleeds, a shattered right arm, multiple seizures and pulmonary bleeding, Lowery returned to writing poems, many of which address the strangeness, the disorientation, of his situation and that of the world in general. Lowery writes amidst reports of Government and health initiatives that suggested potential utilitarian sacrifices of 'the vulnerable'. The fear and loss of the vulnerable and the voiceless haunt many of the poems.
In the Crash Wake sequence, Lowery adopts a twelve-line form. Twelve lines was as long as he could manage to sustain a poem at the time, due to repercussions from his head injury. The form also allows him to take what Keith Douglas called 'extrospective' snapshots of the new environment in which he found himself: streets empty of people, an Italian village cut off by the army, a train in India killing migrant workers in their sleep. Recovery, nature and love fill the gaps in this changed world. Lowery's new book appreciates afresh landscape and wildlife, family and marriage, the importance and fragility of life.
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