The central theme of Carole Satyamurti’s collection Countdown is the shifting relationship between loss and gain. It explores the varied ways in which that relationship is played out in day-to-day experience. The poems range from personal to the political, the psychological to the scientific, many addressing the human cost of war and terror, most notably in ‘Memorial’, written after a visit to Oradour-sur-Glane, the still desolate French village where six hundred innocent people were massacred in 1944.
A sense of the transience and fragility of life runs through all the poems – whether it is life cut short prematurely, or the natural process of ageing. And under that is the profound mystery of time itself – how are we to conceive of it? How can we best live within its inexorable constraints? And how can we engage with it in language?
The poems address these questions with both seriousness and humour, as well as bringing to bear a sharp eye for detail.
‘No matter how compelling her themes, with their demands of compassion and political conscience, Satyamurti never loses hold of her main topic: the capacity of language.’ – Bernard O’Donoghue, Poetry London.
‘Carole Satyamurti’s poems look to be stations on a road map of psychological discoveries, sometimes personal, sometimes objective and scientific. Her best poems are not so much confessions as meditations.’ – Anne Stevenson, London Magazine.
‘Her unobtrusive approach is deceptive – these poems have unexpected stings in their tails.’ – Penelope Shuttle.
Carole Satyamurti reads nine poems
Carole Satyamurti reads six poems from her sequence about breast cancer, 'Changing the Subject', together with another poem, 'Sathyaji', all these from Stitching the Dark: New & Selected Poems (2005), followed by two poems from her collection Countdown (2011), 'Life on Mir' and 'Countdown to Midnight'. Neil Astley filmed Carole Satyamurti at her home in London in March 2010.