Ellen Hinsey’s new collection, Update on the Descent is a powerful meditation on violence, war and human division. Drawing on personal and family experiences – including the murder of her grandmother – as well as research at the International Criminal Tribunal in the Hague, Update on the Descent is the companion volume to The White Fire of Time, a sequence of poetic works that explore the nature of terror as well as the sacred. Dynamically and innovatively written in lyrical and anti-lyrical forms, including prose and aphorism, Update on the Descent is a masterwork, an exploration of the extremes of the human condition, tackling issues of civil strife and tyranny, reconciliation and the renewal of the spirit.
‘With this book, Ellen Hinsey confirms her status as one of the most profound and intense poets of her generation. Update on the Descent is arranged in an extremely sophisticated pattern, alternating Dantean visions, contemporary accounts of torture, and thoughts on our human condition which crystallise into formulae possessing all the depth and darkness of Heraclitus. It has the touch of strangeness indispensable for any great poetry, but its moral message is straightforward and full of inner force’ – Tomas Venclova.
‘Ellen Hinsey has manifested a range of concern and a sensitivity to larger human issues which is the sine qua non of authentic poetry. She has found a way to be both truthful and original, to make poems which are absorbing and enlightening, historically pertinent and philosophically urgent…to our great good fortune they succeed in their unlikely ambitions’ – C.K. Williams.
‘A true poet, whose sense of line, cadence and tonality is unsurpassed among poets of her generation’ – Carolyn Forché.
Ellen Hinsey: Update on the Descent
Ellen Hinsey reads four poems from Update on the Descent. This film by Pamela Robertson-Pearce was made at the Jerwood Centre next to Dove Cottage in April 2009 when Ellen Hinsey was giving a reading for the Wordsworth Trust to launch her latest collection. The poems she reads in this video are 'Transcript', 'A Concise Biography of Tyranny', 'Update on the Last Judgement' and 'Interdiction'.
North America: University of Notre Dame Press