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From the publisher
Winner of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, 2006
Fleur Adcock is one of Britain's most accomplished poets. Her poised, ironic poems are tense and tightly controlled as well as shrewdly laconic, and often chilling as she unmasks the deceptions of love or unravels family lives. Disarmingly conversational in style, they are remarkable for their psychological insight and their unsentimental, mischievously casual view of personal relationships.
Born in New Zealand, she has explored questions of identity and rootedness throughout her work, both in relation to her personal allegiances to her native and adopted countries as well as her family history, whose long-dead characters she brings to life. She has also written movingly of birth, death and bereavement, and has tackled political issues with honest indignation and caustic wit.
This first complete edition of her poetry is published on her 90th birthday, superseding her earlier retrospective, Poems 1960-2000, with the addition of five later collections published by Bloodaxe, Dragon Talk (2010), Glass Wings (2013), The Land Ballot (2015), Hoard (2017) and The Mermaid's Purse (2021), along with a gathering of 20 new poems. All her most celebrated poems are here, from the highly entertaining 'Against Coupling', 'Smokers For Celibacy' and 'The Prize-winning Poem' to modern classics such as 'The Ex-Queen Among the Astronomers' and 'Things'.
'Adcock has a deceptively laid-back tone, through which the sharper edge of her talent is encountered like a razor blade in a peach.' – Carol Ann Duffy, The Guardian
'Adcock's reputation has been founded on her spare, conversational poems, in which the style is deceptively simple, apparently translucent…those who see in such poems only flatness are missing the power of a voice which teases both reader and subject.' – Jo Shapcott, TLS
'Informality and immediacy are good ways to remake a world; and Adcock’s style has not dated in the half-century since her debut.’ – Fiona Sampson, The Guardian
'Most of Fleur Adcock’s best poems have something to do with bed: she writes well about sex, very well about illness, and very well indeed about dreaming… Her imagination thrives on what threatens her peace of mind, and only when she is unguarded can these threats have their full creative effect. Hence the importance of bed: it is the place where the elegant artful barriers that she builds from day to day are most easily over-thrown… Throughout her writing life, she has made a fine art from holding on to principles of orderliness and good clear sense; but she has made an even finer one from loosening her grip on them.' – Andrew Motion, TLS