Poetry Book Society Recommendation
The malarkey is over in the back of the car… As soon as you turn your back, time slips. The humdrum present has become the precious, irrecoverable past. The ways in which the present longs for the past, questions it, tries to get in touch with it and stretches the power of memory to its limits, are central to this new collection by Helen Dunmore.
Joseph Severn recalls Keats hurling a bad dinner out onto the steps of the Piazza di Spagna; the glamour of John Donne’s portrait ‘taken in shadows’ seduces a new generation; the dead assert their right to walk through the imaginations of the living… These are poems and stories of loss and extraordinary rediscovery.
The Malarkey is Helen Dunmore’s first poetry book since Glad of These Times (2007) and Out of the Blue: Poems 1975-2001 (2001), a comprehensive selection drawing on seven previous collections. It brings together poems of great lyricism, feeling and artistry.
‘This traffic between the everyday and mortality requires a perfect control of tone, neither sententious nor sentimental in this familiar setting… In its uninsistent but authoritative way, The Malarkey is a condition-of-England book, driven by a concern for those who have little purchase on their own lives… The Malarkey is Helen Dunmore's best collection, the work of a grown-up for grown-ups who will remember what in the nature of things they've had to lose and what nevertheless they seek to celebrate' - Sean O'Brien, Guardian.
‘What is wonderful is the unusual way her steadiness as a writer serves as a foil to the mysterious. She prefers to show, not tell…The passing of time is crucial in this collection and especially its most violent trick of making years disappear in a moment…a collection filled with extraordinary, incorporeal moments and with vanishing acts…The personal poems are superb and anything but self-indulgent' – Kate Kellaway, The Observer.
‘Her latest collection is a clear-eyed, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, meditation on time past and people lost…a superbly structured collection in which poems echo and answer each other' – Suzi Feay, Independent on Sunday.
Helen Dunmore reads two poems
Helen Dunmore reads two poems, 'Wild strawberries' from Out of the Blue: Poems 1975-2001 (Bloodaxe Books, 2001) and 'Glad of these times' from Glad of These Times (Bloodaxe Books, 2007). This film is from the DVD-book In Person: 30 Poets, filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce, edited by Neil Astley, which includes six poems read by Helen Dunmore.