Hoard by Fleur Adcock PBS Special Commendation Winter 2017
Hoard brings together poems Fleur Adcock had to keep under wraps for several years because they didn’t suit the themes of her last two collections, The Land Ballot and Glass Wings. They include reflections on the tools of her trade (handwriting, typewriters), snatches of autobiography (a brief, ill-considered second marriage followed by her migration from New Zealand to England in 1963), and poems on trees, wildlife and everyday objects. Ellen Wilkinson, who led the Jarrow March in 1936, makes two appearances, joining Coleridge, several ancestors and two dogs. The most recent poems in the book recall Adcock's visits around the North Island of New Zealand in 2015, affirming her renewed although not uncritical affection for the country of her birth.
‘My favourite book of 2015 was also the shortest I read all year, which didn't save me any time because I read it five or six times over, with deepening enjoyment. Fleur Adcock's poetry collection The Land Ballot is just 90-odd pages long. It looks back ambivalently at her native New Zealand and is largely occupied with her late father's life…I left the book on an Edinburgh-Glasgow train and feel slightly lost without it, and only half mollified by the thought that someone else is reading it now.’ – Brian Morton, Sunday Herald (Books of the Year 2015), on The Land Ballot
'Adcock, born in New Zealand but now settled in England, has always been interested in roots, gender and identity. She is acutely aware of those women whose stories have disappeared: women who have been marginalised or forgotten and symbolised perhaps by the anonymous "aproned figure" in "Settlers' Museum"… Lives are decoded here with extraordinary psychological insight and intimacy. These vivid, deeply moving poems demonstrate Adcock's characteristic mixture of playfulness, questioning and deprecation in a tone that is always restrained, rational, conversational. The poems have all the freshness of thinking aloud and demonstrate a wry wit that never conflicts with seriousness or humanity.' – Sue Leigh, PN Review, on The Land Ballot
‘The way a landscape can shape personal and family history is central to Fleur Adcock’s The Land Ballot. The title refers to how her immigrant grandparents acquired a plot of bush in New Zealand’s North Island, and laboriously transformed it into viable farmland. Adcock plunders family diaries, reminiscences and contemporary news items to piece together the lives and inner worlds of various relatives…her lively narrative poems are interspersed with extracts from her original sources. The settler experience is powerfully captured in this imaginative exercise in resurrecting the dead.’ – Juanita Coulson, The Lady, on The Land Ballot
Published by Bloodaxe 26 October 2017