Fleur Adcock began writing the poems in this book when she was 82. The two chief settings are New Zealand, with its multi-coloured seas, and Britain, seen in various decades. There are foreign travels, flirtations, family memories, deaths and conversations with the dead. Katherine Mansfield, incognito, dodges an academic conference; there’s a lesson in water divining as well as a rather unusual Christmas party. We meet several varieties of small mammal, numerous birds, doomed or otherwise, and some sheep. The book ends with a sequence in memory of her friend, the poet Roy Fisher.
‘The Mermaid’s Purse, the 16th collection by Fleur Adcock, is a disparate set of dispatches, traversing the seas of New Zealand as well as alighting closer to home. There is little that escapes Adcock’s eye… What unites the poems is Adcock’s tone, at once beguiling yet with plenty of bite among the pleasantries, which knows that wisdom often comes best wrapped in disguise as a joke.’ – Rishi Dastidar, The Guardian
‘Fleur Adcock’s matter-of-fact, conversational poetic voice belies her immaculate control and restraint. In her work, we are privy to a strange public-private mode of interfacing with people, incidents, stories and places. The poems in The Mermaid’s Purse, her most recent collection, are often addressed to absent parties, but they nonetheless speak with a blunt and sometimes sharp honesty…The act of conversing internally and externally seems key to these poems, and is possibly at the core of Adcock’s poetics.’ – John Kinsella, Times Literary Supplement
'It is not easy to be both elegiac and matter-of-fact but, in this tribute to Fisher, Adcock’s wit and honesty channel grief and loss.' - Theresa Sowerby, Orbis [on Fleur Adcock's tribute to poet Roy Fisher in The Mermaid's Purse]
‘These wry, unsentimental meditations on a life end with a long memorial sequence on her friendship with Roy Fisher. Fisher titled his own collected poems ‘The Long and the Short of It’. That’s what, in her assured and distinctive way, Fleur Adcock gives us in her satisfying new book.’ – John Wheway, The High Window, on The Mermaid’s Purse
‘There is at once both great skill and an easy freshness and lightness of touch which is simultaneously wise and child-like.’ – Hannah Stone, The Lake
'This eclectic ensemble from celebrated poet Fleur Adcock dances through the landscapes and histories of New Zealand and Britain. Adcock’s adroit, witty verse is a joy to read, and Mermaid’s Purse is completed by a moving sequence in memory of Roy Fisher, honouring her friend with a turn of phrase everyone would wish to be memorialized by: “gifted with wits, with wit, with a brain / that these witless times can’t easily spare”.' - Poetry Book Society Bulletin
'Fleur Adcock published her first collection in 1964 and has been honing her skills ever since. Her style has always been conversational but the voice of her poems has become ever suppler, more charged and agile. The poems of The Mermaid’s Purse combine radiantly evocative description with the relaxed rhythms of natural speech, changing tone and perspective rapidly to give the impression of a quickminded person thinking as she speaks.' - Edmund Prestwich, The North
Fleur Adcock reads nine poems
Fleur Adcock reads nine poems from Poems 1960-2000 (Bloodaxe Books, 2000): ‘The Video’, ‘For a Five-Year-Old’, ‘The Pangolin’, ‘An Illustration to Dante’, ‘Things’, Weathering’, ‘For Heidi with Blue Hair’, ‘Where They Lived’ and Counting’.. Pamela Robertson-Pearce filmed Fleur Adcock at her home in London on 29 June 2007. This film is from the DVD-anthology In Person: 30 Poets, filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce & edited by Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books, 2008).
Australia & New Zealand: Victoria University Press
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