Fleur Adcock reviewed in The Guardian

Fleur Adcock reviewed in The Guardian


Fleur Adcock's 16th collection The Mermaid's Purse was published by Bloodaxe in February 2021.  It was launched with a joint live-streamed reading with fellow Bloodaxe poets Tiffany Atkinson, Aoife Lyall and Susan Wicks, all of whom were publishing new collections (see video below).

Fleur began writing the poems in this book when she was 82. The two chief settings are New Zealand, the land of her birth, and Britain, where she has lived since 1963, and where she also spent the war years. The book ends with a sequence in memory of her friend, the poet Roy Fisher.

The collection was reviewed by Rishi Dastidar in his best recent poetry round-up in The Guardian of 6 March 2021.

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

Read the full review here.


The Mermaid's Purse was reviewed in the TLS of 10 September 2021

‘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

Read in full here (just the reviewer's name is missing if you're not a subscriber).


The Mermaid's Purse was reviewed in the September 2021 issue of the contemporary poetry webzine The Lake.

‘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

Read the full review here.


Tuesday 23 February 2021, joint launch event with Fleur Adcock, Tiffany Atkinson, Aoife Lyall and Susan Wicks

Launch reading by Fleur Adcock, Tiffany Atkinson, Aoife Lyall and Susan Wicks. Hosted by editor Neil Astley from his home in Northumberland, this event was streamed live on 23rd February.
The poets all read from their newly published collections, and then answered questions from the online audience. Fleur Adcock read first in each set.  Wonderful readings by poets from four different generations, followed by a very engaging discussion.


Fleur Adcock was awarded the New Zealand Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement in Poetry in October 2019. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the presentation of this prestigious award at a ceremony in Wellington.

The panel making the award commended Fleur Adcock for 'the quality of her significant body of work, her critical contribution to New Zealand poetry from the 1960s, and an extraordinary career, both in New Zealand and overseas'.

Fleur Adcock was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 2006 for her Bloodaxe collected Poems: 1960-2000.   This retrospective was followed by five further collections: Dragon Talk (2010), Glass Wings (2013), The Land Ballot  (2015), a book-length sequence about her family emigrating to New Zealand in World War I, Hoard (2017), a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation, and The Mermaid's Purse  (2021).  Her New Zealand publisher Victoria University Press published an up-dated retrospective in 2019, Collected Poems: Fleur Adcock, followed by their own edition of The Mermaid's Purse in 2021.

Born in New Zealand in 1934, Fleur Adcock spent the war years in England, returning with her family to New Zealand in 1947. She emigrated to Britain in 1963. She writes about childhood, identity, roots and rootlessness, animals and dreams. Her poised, ironic poems are remarkable for their wry wit, conversational tone and psychological insight.


Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern presents the 2019 Prime Minister's Awards for Literary Achievement. Forward to 33:55 to see Fleur Adcock presented with the Award in Poetry.

[05 March 2021]

Back to News And Publicity






View Larger Text