Abandoned Gardens: new & selected Poems by Alice Kavounas
“I’ve been a dedicated reader of Alice Kavounas’s poetry for many years now, always delighted by her clarity and deeply serious wit, her splendid awareness of the realities around her, which is a capacious world that seems only to widen as one reads her poems. She seems able to inhabit and transform any urban or rural landscape into an interior paradise, a place of refuge, as her imagination pushes back against the world’s pressure. This is visionary poetry of a high order, describing in concentric circles “the long now of this blazing day,” as she writes in her lovely final poem here. It’s good to have and hold this volume, the work of a lifetime of trying, as Eliot once said, to ‘purify the dialect of the tribe.’” —Jay Parini
"Here is a poet well-travelled in worlds both exterior and interior. Abandoned Gardens is a powerful and essential distillation from this poet’s three collections, plus a substantial volume of new work. Locales range from the poet’s native America, to her family roots in Greece, and to the UK. Letting go of places and people is a key theme. Unflinching, engaged, observant, authentic, these poems consider the ways in which exile and displacement, caused by the ruthlessness of historical events, impact on our lives. Nothing could be more relevant at the present moment. This, and other subjects, are scrupulously delineated in poems that hold their nerve, whose focus is unsparing, insightful and immediate. Alongside an often rueful clarity there is much wit, fluidity of language, restrained lyricism, and a skilful and varied use of form.
We see through the eyes of the poet, and accompany her through a flawless and unflinching account of the poet’s own eye surgery (Wide-eyed). These poems of witness are vivid, fearless and memorable. There are also poems of celebration, particularly concerning Cornwall." —Penelope Shuttle