When Gillian Allnutt was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, Carol Ann Duffy wrote that her work ‘has always been in conversation with the natural world and the spiritual life’. Her latest collection, wake, shows the two beginning to meld into one: to speak for, even as, one another. As her title signals, these are poems about looking back, keeping watch over the dying and death of an old world and the ways of being human in that world; but also forward, waiting for the new world and being ready to awaken to it when it comes.
There are, as always in her work, many displaced people. No one here is fully at home in the world. These are turbulent times – individually and collectively – and the poems here reflect that. And yet the poems are more ‘among’ than ‘about’ people: speaking out of the horde, and the hoard, of humanity as a whole.
‘Her writing roams across centuries, very different histories and lives, and draws together, without excuse or explanation, moments which link across country, class, culture and time… Her poems progress over the years to a kind of synthesis of word-play and meditation. In her work the space between what is offered and what is withheld is every bit as important as what is said. She has the power to comfort and to astonish in equal measure.’ – Dame Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate, for the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry Award Committee
‘To read her poems is to be struck by their elemental, worn, limber intelligence, what Adam Thorpe, the poet, playwright and novelist, praises as their sense of ‘half-revealed mystery’. Her startling, beautiful, mythic work was recognised earlier this year with the award of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.’ – Jonathan Doering, The Friend