All Souls

All Souls: Poems

Fiction & Poetry, Poetry
Paperback Published on: 05/10/2023
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'Celebrating the incredible moral clarity, beauty, fearlessness and power of the spirit of Saskia Hamilton - and of her poetry' Jorie Graham

'Full of delicate and muscular truths and graced with rare intelligence, this posthumous volume offers the gifts of a uniquely sensitive mind' Publisher's Weekly (starred review)

'To read Saskia Hamilton's opening poem in her forthcoming collection, All Souls, is to move through time in acts of seeing and of noting what is seen . . . For now, the day seems to say, Let the ordinary amaze, it's the grace we hold . . . Hamilton rests her sights on what can be apprehended from a bed, sofa, chair, or window, and named in the quotidian. These small recognitions ensure a life's weightiness, wariness, worthiness' Claudia Rankine

Who becomes familiar with mortal
illness for very long. I was a stranger, &c.
Not everyone appreciates it, no
one finds being the third person
becoming, it's never accurate,
and then one is headed for the past tense.

Futurity that was once a lark, a gamble,
a chance messenger, traffic and trade, under sail.

The boy touches your arm in his sleep
for ballast. It's warm in the hold. Between
ship and sky, the bounds of sight
alone, sphere so bounded.

-from 'All Souls'

In All Souls, Saskia Hamilton transforms compassion, fear, expectation, and memory into art of the highest order. Judgment is suspended as the poems and lyric fragments make an inventory of truths that carry us through night's reckoning with mortal hope into daylight. But even daylight - with its escapements and unbreakable numbers, 'restless, / irregular light and shadow, awakened' - can't appease the crisis of survival at the heart of this collection. Marked with a new openness and freedom - a new way of saying that is itself a study of what can and can't be said-the poems give way to Hamilton's mind, and her unerring descriptions of everyday life: 'the asphalt velvety in the rain.'

The central suite of poems vibrates with a ghostly radioactive attentiveness, with care unbounded by time or space. Its impossible charge is to acknowledge and ease suffering with a gaze that both widens and narrows its aperture. Lightly told, told without sentimentality, the story is devastating. A mother prepares to take leave of a young son. Impossible departure. 'A disturbance within the order of moments.' One that can't be stopped, though in these poems language does arrest and in some essential ways fix time.

Tenderness, courage, refusal, and acceptance infuse this work, illuminating what Elizabeth Hardwick called 'the universal unsealed wound of existence.'

  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
  • ISBN: 9781472158741
  • Number of pages: 96
  • Weight: 160g
  • Dimensions: 234 x 152 x 18 mm

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