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Spiritlands by Sarah Wardle

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Spiritlands invites you into a territory that is at once individual and plural. On the one hand, this is poetry about a personal geography, an eclectic landscape, space in which to be oneself; on the other, these are poems all about hope, life and nature, about belonging to the whole world and asserting one’s right to a place and voice in it. 

Spiritlands gives us a vivid account of the poet’s grandfather’s injuries  in the First World War. Despite shrapnel in his left side he manages to get up and walk to safety. The poem now cuts to London during the Blitz where a small girl – the poet’s mother – slips away from parents  and walks off into a bombed city. Wondrously, these two figures find each other in the poet’s imagination. The soldier picks up the small girl and “dances, dances, dances”. There is solace here but these transgenerational memories remind us of the dangers we are now facing in our own fractious, nationalistic, ecologically challenged century. Sometimes Sarah Wardle sings quietly, putting herself gracefully at the centre of her poems. Sometimes her songs soar above the roofs of London reaching out with an open heart for that broken, breaking larger world. Spiritlands is a glorious, generous, impressively humane work.’ – Julian Stannard

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