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The Mermaid's Purse by Fleur Adcock


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Fleur Adcock began writing the poems in this book when she was 82. The two chief settings are New Zealand, with its multi-coloured seas, and Britain, seen in various decades. There are foreign travels, flirtations, family memories, deaths and conversations with the dead. Katherine Mansfield, incognito, dodges an academic conference; there’s a lesson in water divining as well as a rather unusual Christmas party. We meet several varieties of small mammal, numerous birds, doomed or otherwise, and some sheep. The book ends with a sequence in memory of her friend, the poet Roy Fisher.

‘Informality and immediacy are vivid ways to remake a world; and Adcock’s style has not dated in the half-century since her debut.’ – Fiona Sampson, Guardian [on Glass Wings]

‘Fleur Adcock’s poetry is lauded for its composure and ease of delivery.  Yet that sense of control…belies a more complicated history.’ – Julian Stannard, Times Literary Supplement

‘Fleur Adcock is as clear-eyed as always in a collection that ranges widely over lost worlds, family histories …but always maintains the art of seemingly artless observation.’ – Adam Newey, Guardian (Best Poetry of 2013) [on Glass Wings]

‘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, Times Literary Supplement

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