Aldeburgh Festival First Collection Prize
Shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize
Esther Morgan’s poems travel great distances across huge landscapes, both real and metaphorical: the big skies and endless horizons of the English Fens, the dust and rock of the Moon, the seas and deserts of dreams
Out of these distances, voices speak, or try to speak, wanting to bridge the gap, to connect, to be heard as well as to listen. Many of her characters are isolated people: the woman taken in adultery, a traveller lost in the Australian outback, a suicide waiting to be discovered, the survivors of war.
Balancing doubt with faith in language, these ﬁgures in a landscape depict themselves and the strange worlds they inhabit in sensuous detail. Beyond calling distance, at the edge of the audible, Esther Morgan’s delightfully elusive poems await their reader.
‘Poems of outstanding beauty and a decidedly celebratory wisdom that takes nothing for granted. This is poetry of the first order by a poet who really knows how to sing’ – John Burnside
‘Esther Morgan’s poems are full of hints and mysteries. They dance on sensuous feet while keeping a troubled eye on the music that keeps them dancing. But there are joys here as well as anxieties, and it is the two that amplify each other into such clear, poignant and resonant shapes’ – George Szirtes
‘Themes of erasure, absence and isolation are explored in a voice so ingenuous, its language and syntax so plain, that it takes a while to notice quite how disturbing the poetry is' – Stephen Knight, TLS
‘Morgan works like an archaeologist, creating imagined histories of lives by uncovering what was previously hidden’ – Robyn Bolam, Magma
‘Esther Morgan’s poetry is wonderfully elegant, poignant and wise’ – Antony Dunn, Poetry London
Esther Morgan reads nine poems
Esther Morgan's third collection Grace is shortlisted for the 2011 T.S. Eliot Prize. The main themes of her poetry are loss, loneliness and what remains unspoken. She describes her subject-matter as being 'family and ancestry, the domestic space, the secrets of hidden lives'. Reviewing her work in the TLS, Stephen Knight writes of how 'erasure, absence and isolation are explored in a voice so ingenuous, its language and syntax so plain, that it takes a while to notice quite how disturbing the poetry is.' Neil Astley filmed Esther Morgan reading a selection of her poems at her home in Suffolk in November 2009. Here she reads one poem, 'The Reason', from her first collection <Beyond Calling Distance (2001); then two poems, 'Bone China' and 'At the parrot sanctuary', from The Silence Living in Houses (2005); and six poems from the Eliot-shortlisted Grace (2011): 'Grace', 'Among Women', 'I want to go back to The Angel', 'What Happens While We Are Sleeping', 'After Life' and 'Risen'.