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How to burn a woman | Bloodaxe Books
claire-askew-How-to-burn-a-woman

Claire Askew

How to burn a woman

Claire Askew

Publication Date : 21 Oct 2021

ISBN: 9781780375724

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

Winner of Scottish Poetry Book of the Year 2022 (Scotland's National Book Awards)

Claire Askew’s electrifying second collection is an investigation of power: the power of oppressive systems and their hold over those within them; the power of resilience; the power of the human heart. It licks flame across the imagination, and rewrites narratives of human desire. It is a collection for anyone who has ever run through their life ‘backwards/ in the dark,/ with no map’ – these bright poems illuminate the way.

How to burn a woman throngs with witches, outsiders, and women who do not fit the ordinary moulds of the world. It is a collection which traces historic atrocities, and celebrates the lives of those accused of witchcraft with empathy, tenderness and rage. It lifts a mirror up to contemporary systems of oppression and, in language that is both vivid and accessible, asks hard questions of our current world.

These poems also delve deep into love in all its forms: from infatuations to the bitter ending of relationships. They ask what it is we want, how we might go about getting it, and what its cost might be.

How to burn a woman sweeps the world up in its arms and presents it: a rough bonfire of London buses, Salem streets, Edinburgh closes. Askew’s astute, incisive language lifts from every page, throwing sparks.

'This is a consummate collection of poems by an emerging young poet. The central theme of the book is the historical persecution of women and men during the witch hunts of the sixteenth century onwards, and this historic context is approached with great sensitivity, comprehension and creativity... A book full of carefully crafted poems that connect the past with the present and raise intriguing questions about the way we live and have lived.' - Judges Patrick Corbett, Hugh McMillan, Dr Anne Pia and Dr Ian Spring, on How to burn a woman, winner of Scottish Poetry Book of the Year 2022 (Scotland's National Book Awards)

‘This week’s poem comes from Claire Askew’s second full-length poetry book. It’s a stunning collection, full of tenderness, love, righteous indignation and wit.’ – The Scotsman (Poem of the Week)

'Claire Askew's second collection, How to burn a woman, is a daring and defiant response to the history of systemic misogyny and gender stereotypes... Adopting incisive, emotionally charged language and evocative narratives, the colleciton reveals the struggles, persecutions and inequalities faced by women across different times and spaces.' - Jennifer Wong, Poetry London

‘Written with assurance, these poems feel like the work of a poet who is at the top of her game. They arise out of Claire Askew’s deeply researched investigation of the deaths of women convicted and executed as witches, and she brings them back to life with compassion and well-justified fury…. This is important and profound poetry that reclaims the wisdom and strength of our forebears.’ – Mandy Haggith, Northwords Now, on How to burn a woman

‘Finding a conduit to her own re-definition of womanhood in the form of the embattled seventeenth century witch, Askew establishes a kind of archetype of suffering. Intersecting her narrative thread with poems of pain, recalcitrance, defiance and abject fear, her ‘testimonies’ are sometimes delivered in the voices of the lost, precisely as they act to reinforce her own sense of identification with their memory… Claire Askew’s collection is a vigorously honest prosecution of grievance, a needful resetting of cultural history, and a triumph of resilience.’ – Steve Whitaker, The Yorkshire Times, on How to burn a woman

‘Here is fiery free verse that captures beautifully the uneven forces of female empowerment and misogyny. The resolution to this tension is addressed through deftly poetic explorations of dysfunctional relationships, exploitation of the natural world, and interpretations of Salem witch trials. By blending contemporary issues with our history, Askew exposes the claims to power, and suggests that as long as we cling to institutional influences and gendered assumptions, we will always be ‘in control of essentially nothing.’’ – Orla Davey, DURA (Dundee University Review of the Arts), on How to burn a woman

'These poems are an elegy against forgetting.' - Layla Benitez-James, Harriet Reviews, Poetry Foundation, on How to burn a woman

'Scottish poet Claire Askew's second collection, How to burn a woman, came out in October [2021] and is an excellent read on a dark winter day. Intertwining poems inspired by the fate of real women accused of witchcraft in the past and spell poems about bewitching experiences in our times, it's a book surprisingly filled with both rage and infinite tenderness.' - Charlene Busalli, Ileach (New books for the new year)

‘Bloodaxe has just announced the exciting second collection from Dr Claire Askew, How to burn a woman. Through poems of witches and outsiders, of women who lived on the fringes of ordinary, Askew dives into an exploration of love with her incisive language, poetic tenderness and electric rage.’ – Beth Cochrane, The Skinny (Scottish Poetry Picks for October 2021)

‘Since her first poetry collection This changes things was published in 2016, Askew has been busy establishing herself as a brilliant crime writer… and now returns to poetry with this searing collection of spells, power and love.’ – The Bookseller [on Claire Askew’s second collection How to burn a woman]

‘In this book of spells, Askew stirs together smart, modern poems about whisky, heartbreak and male-female relationships with a darker sequence about our “foremothers” who were persecuted as witches. How to burn a woman is full of hard-won wisdom and beauty. The vibe is Kim Addonizio joins a coven.’ – Clare Pollard

 

Claire Askew reads from How to burn a woman at the Bloodaxe online launch

Claire Askew read poems from How to burn a woman at this Bloodaxe online launch event shared with George Szirtes and Annemarie Austin whose three collections were all published in October 2021. At the end of readings Bloodaxe editor Neil Astley hosted a discussion between Claire and George about their new books.

The Saltire Society filmed the shortlisted authors reading from their shortlisted books, introduced by comments from the judges. The poetry shortlist video is below.

Claire Askew reads her poem 'Library' from How to burn a woman.  Introduced at 4:21 by Scottish Poetry Book of the Year judge Dr Anne Pia.

 

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

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

  

BOOKS BY Claire Askew

This changes things

Claire Askew

This changes things

Publication Date : 25 Feb 2016

Read More   amazon.co.uk

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Claire Askew interviews, reviews & poem features for How to burn a woman

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Claire Askew wins Scottish Poetry Book of the Year

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Claire Askew wins Scottish Poetry Book of the Year 2022 (Scotland's National Book Awards) for her second collection How to burn a woman.

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Claire Askew's joint live-streamed launch of her second collection, How to burn a woman, is on YouTube.

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Joint live-streamed launch reading by Claire Askew, Annemarie Austin and George Szirtes on 19 October 2021 is now on YouTube.

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