Frieda Hughes's fable-like poems draw on her early years in Devon and Yorkshire, a lifelong engagement with nature and itinerant wildlife, and later experiences when living in Australia, London, and most recently, Wales. They cast light on two worlds, giving a mythic dimension to contemporary life – depicting with an artist’s keen eye the particular nature of beast, fish and fowl. Strange creatures, fabled beings and inner voices come to life in startling poems set both in city streets and hospitals as well as in psychic landscapes and reinvented tales.
Out of the Ashes brings together work from four collections: Wooroloo (1999), Stonepicker (2001), Waxworks (2002) and The Book of Mirrors (2009). These show a progressive peeling back of the layers of metaphor and allegory as the reader travels a road into a world informed by increasingly personal experiences and memories, through which the poet has been tested, challenged, and found new direction.
The book takes the reader on a journey through a life, through poems examining ideas of argument, resolution and the acceptance of what cannot be changed. It includes poems relating to death of her father, Ted Hughes, and the loss of her brother Nick to suicide at 47, as well as recollections of adolescence following a childhood scarred by the loss of her mother, Sylvia Plath. The selection excludes poems from Forty-five (2006), available in the US from HarperCollins, and Alternative Values: poems & paintings (2015), published separately by Bloodaxe.
‘An accomplished painter, she brings to her poetry the same landscape of contrasts, in her vivid descriptions of light and dark, struggle and release, the cleansing properties of fire. She is a courageous poet with a rich palette and the ability to create some startling and memorable images.’ – Maura Dooley & Jamie McKendrick, PBS Bulletin
‘Her book is about aloneness, about cathartic confrontation and rebirth…The position of the confessional voice in this poetry is quite deceptive – the “I” can be both public and personal. Such poems outflank the obvious. This is poetry come out of siege.’ – John Kinsella, Observer