Shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and for the Jerwood Aldeburgh First Collection Prize
Stephanie Norgate’s compelling poems celebrate our sensuous contact with each other and with nature. With subjects ranging from a child’s first enjoyment of speech to a lover’s lost dialect, they make invisible experiences tangible through vivid and intense imagery. Lovers in a mud bath are transformed into a new vision of creation. The private rituals of birth, love and loss imprint themselves on the landscape, with ‘a strong magical sense of rawness and eroticism’ (Gerry Stewart), in poems ‘all about skin – that thin, protective coating, the point of contact between inner and outer worlds’ (Jenny Swann).
Hidden River is Stephanie Norgate’s first book-length collection, and follows a prize-winning pamphlet, Fireclay, praised by John Walsh in the Independent as the work of ‘a marvellous new poet’. Her poems share a passionate concern for survival, for the authentic life of the body, and for all the elements but especially water – its touch and surface, its buoyancy and nourishment, the flowing rhythms that enter us. They ‘begin to explore nothing less than human invention’ (Jo Shapcott) as they chart strong currents between the dispossessed and the natural world.
‘An absolutely stunning first collection, combining craft and passion. The poems encompass many subjects, from powerful and moving poems about grief and loss, to sensual love poems, poems about history and place, to poems that reach out into the worlds of art, literature and politics. They are united by a sense of something secret and undiscovered being revealed and by a very distinctive, lyrical voice. The precariousness of human experience is balanced by a precisely observed vision of the natural world.’ – Vicki Feaver
‘She writes about the life of the flesh, the imprint of old loves and the comic tender transformations brought about by sexual desire.’ – Helen Dunmore