The Silence Living in Houses unlocks the doors to houses of secrets and dreams where ghosts of the past are more real than the living. In unsettling poems rich with intrigue, Esther Morgan traces the presence of those whose stories are fading like the wallpaper: the servant girl who smashed the dinner service and disappeared; the sisters whose macabre end is still spoken of in whispers; the mistress who breathes sweet nothings from behind the roses.
At the heart of the book is the darkest of interiors where the threat and practice of violence forges a bond as unbreakable as the Mafia’s code. But not all these houses are unsafe: the final poems summon up the haunted blood of family, revealing how what remains unspoken is as much concerned with love as it is with loss.
‘Esther Morgan’s ﬁrst collection promised that here was a signiﬁcant poetic talent in the making. The Silence Living in Houses makes good on that promise with poems of outstanding beauty and a decidedly celebratory wisdom that takes nothing for granted. This is poetry of the ﬁrst order by a poet who really knows how to sing.’ – John Burnside
‘Esther Morgan’s poems are full of hints and mysteries. They dance on sensuous feet while keeping a troubled eye on the music that keeps them dancing. But there are joys here as well as anxieties, and it is the two that amplify each other into such clear, poignant and resonant shapes.’ – George Szirtes
‘Morgan works like an archaeologist, creating imagined histories of lives by uncovering what was previously hidden’ – Robyn Bolam, Magma
Esther Morgan reads nine poems
Esther Morgan's third collection Grace was shortlisted for the 2011 T.S. Eliot Prize. The main themes of her poetry are loss, loneliness and what remains unspoken. She describes her subject-matter as being 'family and ancestry, the domestic space, the secrets of hidden lives'. Reviewing her work in the TLS, Stephen Knight wrote of how 'erasure, absence and isolation are explored in a voice so ingenuous, its language and syntax so plain, that it takes a while to notice quite how disturbing the poetry is.' Neil Astley filmed Esther Morgan reading a selection of her poems at her home in Suffolk in November 2009. Here she reads one poem, 'The Reason', from her first collection Beyond Calling Distance (2001); then two poems, 'Bone China' and 'At the parrot sanctuary', from The Silence Living in Houses (2005); and six poems from the Eliot-shortlisted Grace (2011): 'Grace', 'Among Women', 'I want to go back to The Angel', 'What Happens While We Are Sleeping', 'After Life' and 'Risen'.