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Sleeping Under the Juniper Tree by Pauline Stainer

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Pauline Stainer is a poet ‘working at the margins of the sacred’, conveying sensations ‘with an economy of means that is breathtaking… her poems are not merely artefacts, they have an organic life of their own’ (John Burnside). As in all her books, the luminous poems of her ninth collection Sleeping under the Juniper Tree are minimal but highly charged – with presences and hauntings, sensing the spirit incarnate in every part of the living world.

‘Stainer conceives the spiritual and communicates with secular simplicity… In this, her second individual volume since the magisterial Selected: The Lady & the Hare (2003), Stainer has found fresh impetus and a singular tone. Her voice revealing “unrelated things singing to themselves”.’ – Hayden Murphy, The Herald [on Sleeping under the Juniper Tree]

‘Stainer’s quiet, exquisite eloquence has often been praised, but what makes her poems distinctive and magical is their scale – polished, crystalline, self-contained like a prism that refracts light and reveals the invisible world… Sleeping Under the Juniper Tree is Stainer’s most electrifying and imaginative book to date.’ – Kit Fan, The Poetry Review

‘Over the past 20 years, Pauline Stainer has all but perfected the art of illumination without demystification, in search of what she calls “the divining shiver”, a phrase that can only gesture towards the combination of physical immediacy and numinous wonder that her marvellous poems possess… Stroke by stroke, apprehension by apprehension, Stainer is building a unique and extraordinary body of work’ – Frances Leviston, Guardian [on Crossing the Snowline]

‘Her territory is predominantly that of legend: its symbols and its creatures – the unicorn, the falcon, the serpent – but she often draws them into a contemporary setting where they neither shed power nor lose meaning. Her purpose is not so much to import the ancient world into the modern as to demonstrate that those worlds are of a piece: that old rituals still obtain, that old beliefs still govern instinct’ – David Harsent, PBS Bulletin.

‘Pauline Stainer writes sacred poetry for the scientific twenty-first century. Her poetry preserves a surety of vision, insisting that belief can only increase with knowledge, and that wisdom and faith are still provinces of careful, crystalline language. She is deeply English and draws from a wealth of sources: medieval lyrics, Eastern as well as Western art, Christian liturgy, and an impressive familiarity with chemistry and optics’ – Anne Stevenson.



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