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Inside the Wave | Bloodaxe Books

Helen Dunmore

Inside the Wave

Helen Dunmore

Publication Date : 27 Apr 2017

ISBN: 9781780373584

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

Costa Book of the Year 2017 

Winner of the 2017 Costa Poetry Award

To be alive is to be inside the wave, always travelling until it breaks and is gone. These poems are concerned with the borderline between the living and the dead – the underworld and the human living world – and the exquisitely intense being of both. They possess a spare, eloquent lyricism as they explore the bliss and anguish of the voyage.

Inside the Wave, Helen Dunmore’s tenth and final poetry book, was her first since The Malarkey (2012), whose title-poem won the National Poetry Competition. Her final poem, 'Hold out your arms', written shortly before her death and not included in the first printing of Inside the Wave, was added to all subsequent printings. Her posthumous retrospective, Counting Backwards: Poems 1975-2017 (2019), covers ten collections she published over four decades up to and including Inside the Wave

'We all felt this is a modern classic; a fantastic collection, life-affirming and uplifting.  The poems carry powerful messages that speak to all of us.' - Wendy Holden, Chair of Judges, Costa Book of the Year 2017

'An astonishing set of poems - a final, great achievement.' - Costa Poetry Award Judges Moniza Alvi, Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Nick Wroe on Inside the Wave, winner of the Costa Poetry Award

'Inside the Wave shows us not only what it is to be alive, but what it is like to be alive and to be mortal.  It is a very special book indeed.' - Moniza Alvi, Costa Poetry Award Judge, The Guardian (The Week in Books)

'This is a prize that celebrates "great writing, a good read and broad appeal".  There is no better definition of Inside the Wave: a book that is a fitting culmination, and lasting memorial, to a remarkable life and career.' - Nick Wroe, Costa Poetry Award Judge, The Guardian

'It’s a phenomenal book... an absolute standout book.’ - Alex Clark, reviewing Inside the Wave for Radio 4's Front Row (Costa Book Awards Shortlists announcement)

‘2017 saw the loss of many loved poets.  Inside the Wave by the late Helen Dunmore ensures her beautiful light will continue to reach earth.’ – Carol Rumens, The Observer (Poetry Books of the Year)

‘Helen Dunmore’s final collection of poems, Inside the Wave, is heartbreaking: she was a poet always in her heart, and she left us far too soon when she died in June.’ – Erica Wagner, New Statesman (Books of the Year)

'She was – first and last – a poet. Her first collection, The Apple Fall, was published when she was 30, her last, Inside the Wave, in April this year...  Her last collection is her most spare and moving. Inside the Wave is smooth as a sea pebble and liminal – poised between life and death.' - Kate Kellaway, in her tribute to Helen Dunmore in The Guardian

‘The wave in this humane and visionary collection symbolises the flow of time and tide around and over individual lives… Lying down and watching the world at eye level constitutes much of what poets and novelists do and Dunmore’s work in both genres is always alive with sensuous detail.’ – Carol Rumens, Poetry Book of the Month, The Observer

‘Henry James, in The Art of Fiction, urged the apprentice novelist to “try to be one of those people on whom nothing is lost”. In a career of great distinction, Dunmore has not only acted on the advice – as both novelist and poet – but has offered the reader a chance to share her remarkable alertness, imaginative range and generosity of spirit.’ – Sean O’Brien, The Guardian [on Inside the Wave]

'...elegiac but uplifting... This is a book that deals with mortality, but also surprises with its insights and imaginative drive.’ - Jessica Traynor, on Inside the Wave, which she reviewed on RTE Radio 1’s Arena

‘Before her death from cancer in June, aged 64, Helen Dunmore fired one last dazzling salvo with this stunning poetry collection… The poems in Inside the Wave inhabit the twilit, liminal spaces between life and death… Their pared-down quality renders them all the more moving; their bright flashes of imagery like sunlit sea-glass on dull sand.’ – Juanita Coulson, Book of the Week, The Lady

‘It is a wonderful collection, worth reading not only for the beautiful lyricism of the verse, but also for the insights into the human condition contained.  It is powerful and moving without being in the least maudlin, a celebration of life made in the knowledge that it must end.’ – Frank Startup, The School Librarian

'These last poems by Dunmore are not sheltered from the hurt and loss that befall us, but still there is a sense of freedom, even growth, within them, and, perhaps, within us, as we close the book and let them begin their work.' - The Revd Mark Oakley, Church Times


Costa Book of the Year 2017: film on Helen Dunmore and Inside the Wave

Costa Book Awards commission short films on each year's category winners. This film by Charles Turley (ctafilmsforhumans) includes an interview with Helen Dunmore's children, Patrick and Tess Charnley, and footage of the Cornish coast around St Ives which inspired much of her work, including the book's title-poem, 'Inside the Wave', which we hear her reading (from a recording made by BBC's The Verb.


Costa Book of the Year 2017 awards event

Helen Dunmore’s Inside the Wave is announced as winner of the Costa Book of the Year 2017 at the Costa Book Awards ceremony in London on 30 January 2018.


Helen Dunmore reads six poems

Filmed at her home in Bristol in June 2007, Helen Dunmore reads six poems: Wild strawberries’, ‘When You’ve Got’, ‘Candle poem’, ‘City lilacs’, 'Glad of these times' and ‘Dolphins whistling’ from Out of the Blue: Poems 1975-2001 (2001) and Glad of These Times (2007). This film is from the DVD-book In Person: 30 Poets, filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce, edited by Neil Astley.


Helen Dunmore reads from The Malarkey

Helen Dunmore (1952-2017) read from her penultimate collection, The Malarkey (Bloodaxe Books, 2012) at Ledbury Poetry Festival on 8 July 2012. Here, in the last part of her reading, she reads five poems from the book: ‘Pianist, 103’, ‘What Will You Say’, ‘Come Out Now’, ‘I Heard You Sing in the Dark’ and ‘The Malarkey’. She also talks about how important it was for her to win the National Poetry Competition with the book’s title-poem in 2010. Her event was filmed for the festival by Alan Sennett, but only this footage survives



BOOKS BY Helen Dunmore

Counting Backwards

Helen Dunmore

Counting Backwards

Poems 1975-2017

Publication Date : 21 Feb 2019

Read More
The Malarkey

Helen Dunmore

The Malarkey

Publication Date : 28 Jun 2012

Read More

Related News & Publicity

News & Publicity

Helen Dunmore's Inside the Wave named Costa Book of the Year

Helen Dunmore's Inside the Wave named Costa Book of the Year

The late Helen Dunmore's final collection Inside the Wave wins Costa Book of the Year 2017; Press, TV & Radio interviews with Helen's son and daughter.

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News & Publicity

Helen Dunmore (1952-2017)

Helen Dunmore (1952-2017)

Press and Radio tributes to Helen Dunmore

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