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Drawn from thirty years of work, this selection, made by the poet himself, gathers from the best of Jamie McKendrick’s six acclaimed collections, including some translations, from 1991’s debut The Sirocco Room to Out There (2012, and winner of the Hawthornden Prize) by way of The Marble Fly (1997), winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection, and Ink Stone, shortlisted for both the T. S. Eliot Prize and the Whitbread Poetry Award in 2003. Sky Nails, his selected poems, was published by Faber in 2000, and selections of his poems have been translated and published in Holland and in Italy.
Throughout, McKendrick has been concerned with the charting of space, of the distances between homeland and edgeland, the far-flung and the near-at-hand, the past and present, the familiar and the strange in poems which cast a sharp eye over their subject matter and return with wry, unsettling observations. There is remembrance, here, and salvage, a bringing to light of that which is obscured or lost, not only the ink stones in Chinese riverbeds, but extinct species, spacecraft and flooded houses, as well as historical figures, including a 10th-century physicist from Basra, Irish activist Roger Casement, and artists Gaudi, Höch and Piranesi.
Jamie McKendrick’s remarkable Selected Poems (Faber) is a reminder, in this time of Brexit, of a cosmopolitan restiveness, a sophistication, that’s also very English.
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