Selected Poems, 1976-1997: Unabridged (Penguin)

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9780141801759: Selected Poems, 1976-1997: Unabridged (Penguin)

Andrew Motion has made his own selection which includes dramatic monologues, elegies, poems of social and political observation and love poems. He is concerned with the extremes of human experience.

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Review:

A child asks if people drown in the Thames. A favourite flower-print dress disappears. Loved ones die. Empties are dragged to the curb. Though rooted in the ordinary, Motion's poems are anything but.

In the masterful "Look" the poet forges connections among events that seem, at least on the surface, quite unrelated. First, his unborn twins swim "in mooning blue, / their dawdlers' legs / kicking through silence / enormously slowly, / while blotches beneath them / revolve like the earth/ which will bring them down to grief / or into their own." Next, his ageing mother lies in bed "as though any day now / she might lift into space / and never return / to breathe our air." Finally, the speaker awakens from a dream "that time / will last long enough / to let me die happy, / not yearning for more / like a man lost in space / might howl for the earth, / or a dog for the moon / with no reason at all." Here, four tentative futures powerfully converge in nothing less than a visceral tour de force.

Unpredictable, unsentimentally elegant, Motion has inherited all the rhythmic and narrative genius of Robert Frost. "I stamp both feet and disappear in a cloud," he announces in "Fresh Water." Lucky for us, he's speaking metaphorically. --Martha Silano

About the Author:

Andrew Motion was Poet Laureate from 1999 to 2009; he is Professor of Creative Writing at Royal Holloway College, University of London, and co-founder of the online Poetry Archive. He has received numerous awards for his poetry, and has published four celebrated biographies. His group study The Lamberts won the Somerset Maugham Award and his authorised life of Philip Larkin won the Whitbread Prize for Biography. Andrew Motion's novella The Invention of Dr Cake (2003) was described as 'amazingly clever' by the Irish Times and praised for 'brilliant and almost hallucinatory vividness' by the Sunday Telegraph. His memoir, In the Blood (2006), was described as 'the most moving and exquisitely written account of childhood loss I have ever read' in the Independent on Sunday. His most recent collection of poems, The Cinder Path (2009), was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry. Andrew Motion was knighted for his services to poetry in 2009.

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