The Wound Register by Esther Morgan
The Wound Register, or Casualty Book – which gives this book its title – is an official record of the casualty and sickness details for more than fifteen thousand soldiers of the Norfolk Regiment during the First World War. Written during the conflict’s centenary, the poems in Esther Morgan’s fourth collection apply the concept to her own family history in the aftermath of her great-grandfather’s death at the Somme. An unflinching sequence written to her grandmother explores the trauma of losing a father in combat, while other poems address the missing soldier directly as he hovers on the brink of living memory.
Morgan’s experience of coming late to motherhood brings the book into the present, giving her alertness to loss a fresh urgency as she traces the legacy of three generations. Written with the lyrical precision of her earlier work but with a new intimacy, The Wound Registergrapples movingly with the question of whether it’s possible to live and love while doing no harm.
‘Grace, Esther Morgan's third collection, is an extraordinary, radiant book. Its poetry makes quietly insistent demands uppon the reader: "In the stillness, everything becomes itself."... The afterglow of Esther Morgan's luminous work is not certainty, but questions. Can imagination transform, or simply recognise, what is there? Do these poems come by grace of Muse or angel?’ – Alison Brackenbury, Poetry London
‘We speak of "the poet’s voice", a phrase which comes to mind when considering what’s special about Grace: the consistency and perfect pitch of the ‘voice’. Open any page, pick any poem, and the reader hears poetry that sings without use of a single poetic device of sound or form. That’s not easy to get right. It’s a book of rooms, interiors, sensed presences and absences, noted detail, the graceful and the slovenly - white plates on a kitchen table, a slipware bowl, the year-old jar of nails and flies. It’s a quiet book, full of grace, like a painting by Vermeer, and, like the work of Vermeer, each work of art inhabits the same house. This collection doesn’t strike a single false note.’ – Gillian Clarke, T.S. Eliot Prize judge’s comment on Grace
Published March 2018