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Earth House | Bloodaxe Books
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Matthew Hollis

Earth House

Matthew Hollis

Publication Date : 27 Apr 2023

ISBN: 9781780375625

Pages: 65
Size :216 x 138mm
Rights: World

Longlisted for The Laurel Prize 2023

In Earth House, Matthew Hollis evokes the landscape, language and ecology of the isles of Britain and Ireland to explore how our most intimate moments have resonance in the wider cycle of life. Beginning in the slate waters of the north, the book revolves around the cardinal points and the ancient elements: through the wide skies of the east and the terrain of a southern city, to the embers of places lost to us, to which we can no longer return.

What emerges is a moving meditation on time and the transformative phases of nature that calls many forces into its presence – the wisdoms of Anglo-Saxon verse, the metamorphoses of Norse and Celtic myth, the stoicism of classical thought and the far east – unforgettably phrased by a writer who, in the words of the TLS, ‘makes the language of his poetry an event in itself’. Subtly attuned to the rhythms of the turning world, these poems open with the passing of an old life and culminate in the birth of a new one. They bravely work the seam between the present and the past, between destruction and renewal, humanity and our environment, and make Earth House a timeless exploration of our timed encounter with the remarkable lives of our planet.

Earth House is Matthew Hollis’s long awaited follow up to Ground Water (2004), shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Whitbread Poetry Award. He is the author of Now All Roads Lead to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas (2011), winner of the Costa Award for Biography and Sunday Times Biography of the Year, and The Waste Land: A Biography of a Poem (2022).

‘Attuned to the interconnections between landscape, language and ecology, Matthew Hollis’ Earth House is an astounding and deeply immersive collection that moves from elegiac loss to the birth of new life. Musical, layered and reflective, the poems magnify the environmental tremors we so often wreak in our wake, all the while suggesting the quiet possibility of another, more attentive way of being in the world, premised before anything on astonishment.’ – Nikolai Duffy, The Tablet (Books of the Year 2023)

'The book I took with me to the island [Corfu] was Matthew Hollis's new collection, Earth House. It is also much concerned with place and the emotional responses place discovers. The poems draw on aspects of nature and natural effects – those mysteries – to reckon with the way human (that is interpersonal) dramas seem evidenced by weather and the rigours of landscape. There are books that I keep by me for a long time. Earth House will be one.' – David Harsent, One Hand Clapping (Christmas 2023 issue)

Earth House by Matthew Hollis is contemplative, considered poetry. Beneath its apparent quiet, I admire its strength, its echo & emotion.’ – Katrina Naomi, Short & Sweet (Monthly Recommended Read)

‘It’s taken Matthew Hollis 19 years to produce a successor to his debut collection, Ground Water, but Earth House was worth the wait. Well-nigh elemental in their evocation of time and landscape, the poems can have the effect of making their human protagonists look frail, marginal visitants to an indifferent world. At other times, particularly when Hollis returns to his native East Anglia, they are consummate exercises in psychogeography, where, however ancient the terrain, the people lead the dance.’ – D. J. Taylor, The Tablet (Summer Reading)

'Hollis’s collection is impressively structured, each of its four sections composed as an itinerary that always comes “home” to anchor in an original translation from The Exeter Book. The places and insights the poet experiences at the cardinal points are fluid, interconnected, never insular. Longlisted for the 2023 Laurel prize, Earth House represents the ecological imagination at its most multi-layered and persuasive.' – Carol Rumens, Poem of the Week, The Guardian

‘Some poets take their time. Matthew Hollis’s second collection Earth House arrives this week 19 full years after his acclaimed debut Ground Water.  In the meantime, Hollis has written a well received biography of Edward Thomas, whose poetry is a marked influence on his own. Like Thomas, Hollis writes with an unsentimental love of the natural world, in poems where landscapes he knows well are charged with a personal significance that’s often only hinted at.’ – Tristram Fane Saunders, The Daily Telegraph (Poem of the Week)

‘Matthew Hollis’s Earth House is concerned with the ways our environment both roots and unroots us. Tied to the language, histories and ecology of Ireland and Britain, it is an elemental and expansive collection that builds from death to the birth of new life … If there is transcendence here it is to be found in the attention to the world around us, its nuance and fragility and our intimate connection to it, the “cleft between the chassis and the sea” [. . .] [Earth House] provides the space and provocation for such reflections, opening up the cracks between things through which the light can shine.’ – Nikolai Duffy, The Tablet

‘deeply moving [. . .] a reminder that, for all contemporary poetry’s attention to translation, translation, dialogue and “versions”, inspiration is still possible.’ – Graeme Richardson, Times Literary Supplement, on Earth House

Earth House is a beautiful book [...] Myth and language keep the past ever-present for Hollis: his work is steeped in allusions to Anglo Saxon, Celtic and Norse myth, and richly textured with regional discourse, anchoring language both to history and place … a stunning collection.’ – Paul McDonald, London Grip

‘This is poetry as music, as an oral and aural link to a past when the hedgerow and the fen were the world to some people. But it’s no mawkish lament for that time, it’s a hymn in its honour [. . .] that leaves the reader caught between savouring what the poet has just done and hungering for the next line. If it were a song on Spotify you’d have it on repeat.’ – Carl Tomlinson, The Friday Poem, on Earth House

‘The journey of body and mind in Matthew Hollis’ fine octet is as compelled and driven as a pilgrimage.’ – Steve Whitaker, Yorkshire Times, Poem of the Week, on 'The Long Snow' from Earth House

'There were 19 years between Hollis’s first collection and his second, born almost a generation apart [...] In a world of noise, collapse and change, he finds Eliot’s ‘still point of the turning world’. His quietly dignified, wise and elegant poems, on the earth and our fluid, unsettled place in it, are always a pleasure to spend time with.' – Nicola Healey, The London Magazine

'Matthew Hollis’s second collection blends the human and the natural in novel ways... a sweeping meditation on time, history, and our place in the natural world.' – Maggie Wang, Poetry Book Society Summer Bulletin 2023

‘Astonishing… I loved every page of these wise and unforgettable poems that celebrate human life and the natural world with phrase-making that stays on the ear long after the reading.’ – Daljit Nagra, Poetry Extra, BBC Radio 4 Extra, speaking about Earth House, his Poetry Extra Book of the Month

‘A quietly magnificent book. Wholly lived. A magnificat in that way. Devoted to the austere and painful truths that poem by poem it discovers and quietly, as ever, magnifies. These poems sound a music like the warming subsong of a blackbird from the bare heart of a winter thorn, a cold cheer, a kindling blues.' – Tim Dee, author of Greenery

‘A magical combination of the delicate and the intense.’ – Julia Blackburn, author of Time Song

‘Enchanting…what good poems.‘ – Ronald Blythe, author of Akenfield
 

Praise for Leaves (included in Earth House)

‘A song of seasonal degeneration and rejuvenation…an incantatory rhythm that quietly but insistently interrogates the ecological future of the planet and laments the carelessness with which it is treated.’ – Dzifa Benson, The Poetry Review

Leaves is a moving meditation on the dynamics of a father/daughter relationship, set against the backdrop of autumn. In clear dialogue with Eliot’s Four Quartets, and laying bare the strange, mythic quality that lies under the surface of the everyday, it explores themes of departure and return, the loss and renewal of life, in musical sentences that pull us on mesmerically through to the pamphlet’s regenerative ending.’ – Michael Marks Pamphlet Award judges

Matthew Hollis read from ‘Leaves’, from Earth House

Filmed in the woods where the poem was written, began before Matthew's daughter was born. Now, years later, with autumn leaves gathering around his feet, Matthew shares extracts from this long poem, with the relationship of father and daughter at its heart. This film was made by Hazel Press, which published a limited edition pamphlet of Leaves in 2020, ahead of its inclusion in Earth House

Matthew Hollis reads from Earth House at Newcastle Poetry Festival 2023

In this reading at the 2023 Newcastle Poetry Festival, Matthew Hollis reads five poems from Earth House: 'A Harnser for James', The Diomedes', 'A Red Hairband in Iveragh', 'Deor' and 'Causeway'.

Matthew Hollis: Ground Water

Matthew Hollis introduces and reads four poems from Ground Water: ‘Wintering’, ‘The Fielder’, ‘And let us say’ and ‘The Sour House’. He was teaching a residential poetry course with Anthony Dunn at Highgreen Manor next door to Bloodaxe’s former Tarset office in the summer of 2007 when we managed to grab him during a break in proceedings to read us the poems included in Pamela Robertson-Pearce’s film, which is from the DVD-anthology In Person: World Poets, filmed & edited by Pamela Robertson-Pearce and Neil Astley (2017). 

 

Ireland & EU: Click here to order from Books Upstairs in Dublin

USA: Click here to order from Indiebound or Bookshop.org

  

BOOKS BY Matthew Hollis

Ground Water

Matthew Hollis

Ground Water

Publication Date : 29 Jan 2004

Read More   amazon.co.uk
Strong Words

W.N. Herbert

Strong Words

Modern Poets on Modern Poetry

Publication Date : 28 Sep 2000

Read More   amazon.co.uk

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