Poetry Book Society Recommendation
The malarkey is over in the back of the car… As soon as you turn your back, time slips. The humdrum present has become the precious, irrecoverable past. The ways in which the present longs for the past, questions it, tries to get in touch with it and stretches the power of memory to its limits, are central to Helen Dunmore’s penultimate collection.
Joseph Severn recalls Keats hurling a bad dinner out onto the steps of the Piazza di Spagna; the glamour of John Donne’s portrait ‘taken in shadows’ seduces a new generation; the dead assert their right to walk through the imaginations of the living… These are poems and stories of loss and extraordinary rediscovery.
The Malarkey was Helen Dunmore’s first poetry book after Glad of These Times (2007) and Out of the Blue: Poems 1975-2001 (2001), a comprehensive selection drawing on seven previous collections, and was followed by her tenth and final collection, Inside the Wave. It brings together poems of great lyricism, feeling and artistry.
‘This traffic between the everyday and mortality requires a perfect control of tone, neither sententious nor sentimental in this familiar setting… In its uninsistent but authoritative way, The Malarkey is a condition-of-England book, driven by a concern for those who have little purchase on their own lives… The Malarkey is Helen Dunmore's best collection, the work of a grown-up for grown-ups who will remember what in the nature of things they've had to lose and what nevertheless they seek to celebrate' - Sean O'Brien, Guardian.
‘What is wonderful is the unusual way her steadiness as a writer serves as a foil to the mysterious. She prefers to show, not tell…The passing of time is crucial in this collection and especially its most violent trick of making years disappear in a moment…a collection filled with extraordinary, incorporeal moments and with vanishing acts…The personal poems are superb and anything but self-indulgent' – Kate Kellaway, The Observer.
‘Her latest collection is a clear-eyed, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, meditation on time past and people lost…a superbly structured collection in which poems echo and answer each other' – Suzi Feay, Independent on Sunday.
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. She reads a selection of earlier poems in another video, https://vimeo.com/1149137
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.