Poetry Book Society Recommendation
Let this be my last word on the subject.
The wasps sting and stab
but, ignoring them, I speak.
'Necklace of Wasps'
The Hopeful Hat is Carole Satyamurti's last collection. She was preparing these poems for publication at the time of her death, and left the manuscript in an advanced state of readiness. The sequencing of the poems, and the sections they are grouped in, had already been decided by her.
These late poems are informed by Satyamurti's keen eye for social injustice and, equally, by the breadth of her compassion. Poignantly, they are also her nuanced poetic response to having her voice box removed following a diagnosis of laryngeal cancer. The poems' formal accomplishment is carried lightly; characteristically, it is this light touch that enables Satyamurti to move so deeply. Clear-eyed in the face of her own mortality, she produced a series of courageous poems that are, as Carol Ann Duffy said of her work, 'laced with the hard stuff'. They are also graced with Satyamurti's unique and subtle wit.
The preface by the poet's daughter, Emma Satyamurti, places this collection in the larger context of four decades of published work, and provides an illuminating insight into the poems gathered together here.
Satyamurti's 'last word on the subject' is as eloquent as it is succinct:
A broken bowl becoming
a charged fragment in your hand
invites you to consider now, and now,
the quiddity of all that is.
'How to Wash Dishes on the Eightfold Path'
'The calm, wit and grace with which she writes makes reading her poems moving but never depressing.' - Kate Kellaway, The Observer (poetry book of the month), on The Hopeful Hat
'…The Hopeful Hat is a masterclass in premonition and departure... She’ll be remembered for big-hearted, socially responsible poems that are intent on change but reconciled to limitation. This is a moving book that feeds our yearning for hope, while also questioning the meaning of hopefulness.' - Kit Fan, The Guardian (Best recent poetry round-up)
‘Small Change is a brave piece of writing, an exposure of inadequacies of personal and civic responsibility which few of us will fail to shudder at. Not least because of its cold honesty, it’s a silver coin dropped into the hopeful hat of any reader aspiring to the examined life. There are many more such gifts in this posthumous collection, beautifully edited and introduced by the poet’s daughter Emma Satyamurti.’ – Carol Rumens, Poem of the Week, The Guardian, on 'Small Change' from The Hopeful Hat
‘… Satyamurti’s lyric meditations marry emotional clarity with imagery that lingers in the mind’s eye.’ – Ellora Sutton, Mslexia, on The Hopeful Hat
‘These poems are quiet, insistent, intimate. They’re plain speaking. Her canvas ranges from the personal to the global... The book grows ever stiller and more beautiful, for this reader, as it progresses. There’s something about choosing the right words, ones that will bear fruit and witness.’ - Charlotte Gann, The Friday Poem, on The Hopeful Hat
‘This posthumous collection is a work of impressive artistry and depth… what I find impressive isn’t just the precision and economy with which these poems are written but the stance they take, the direction of their vision. Instead of asking us to look at her own situation, Satyamurti looks through it at other people’s experiences and broader human meanings… Altogether, this is a book I’d warmly recommend and expect to enjoy over many years.’ – Edmund Prestwich, The High Window,
‘… though shaded by mortality, it’s not a sad book, rather the reverse, offering as it does its own very personal witness to the courage of the human spirit—a spirit encapsulated by the busker’s ‘hopeful hat’ in the title poem.’ – Stuart Henson, London Grip
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.
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