Frieda Hughes's fable-like poems draw on her early years in Devon and Yorkshire, a lifelong engagement with nature and itinerant wildlife, and later experiences when living in Australia, London, and most recently, Wales. They cast light on two worlds, giving a mythic dimension to contemporary life – depicting with an artist’s keen eye the particular nature of beast, fish and fowl. Strange creatures, fabled beings and inner voices come to life in startling poems set both in city streets and hospitals as well as in psychic landscapes and reinvented tales.
Out of the Ashes brings together work from four collections: Wooroloo (1999), Stonepicker (2001), Waxworks (2002) and The Book of Mirrors (2009). These show a progressive peeling back of the layers of metaphor and allegory as the reader travels a road into a world informed by increasingly personal experiences and memories, through which the poet has been tested, challenged, and found new direction.
The book takes the reader on a journey through a life – Frieda's poems examining the ideas of argument, resolution and the acceptance of what cannot be changed. They include poems relating to the death of her father, Ted Hughes, and the loss of her brother Nicholas to suicide at 47, as well as recollections of adolescence following a childhood affected by the loss of her mother, Sylvia Plath. The selection excludes poems from Forty-five (2006), available in the US from HarperCollins, and Alternative Values: poems & paintings (2015), published separately by Bloodaxe.
‘Because of her fraught family’s dramatic and tragic history, Frieda Hughes will forever be caught in the glare of the public eye; because of that history, poems about her family will always be fascinating to readers. Her poetry is a brave attempt to accept and confront this, and also to blaze her own trail.’ – Greg Freeman, Write Out Loud [on Out of the Ashes]
‘This volume brings together poems from four collections dated between 1999 and 2009. It is a fascinating anthology for many reasons, not least of which is the quality of the poetry and the incredible breadth of subject matter. In addition to this, however, the book begins with a long essay which shows us the working of the poet’s mind in clear, direct prose amplifying and illustrating the poetry in the collection... it is the comprehensiveness of the whole package which needs noting. It will reward study and thought on many levels.’ – Frank Startup, The School Libararian [on Out of the Ashes]
‘An accomplished painter, she brings to her poetry the same landscape of contrasts, in her vivid descriptions of light and dark, struggle and release, the cleansing properties of fire. She is a courageous poet with a rich palette and the ability to create some startling and memorable images.’ – Maura Dooley & Jamie McKendrick, PBS Bulletin [on Wooroloo]
‘Her book is about aloneness, about cathartic confrontation and rebirth…The position of the confessional voice in this poetry is quite deceptive – the “I” can be both public and personal. Such poems outflank the obvious. This is poetry come out of siege.’ – John Kinsella, Observer [on Wooroloo]