Books Magazine

Gallop: Selected Poems by @ABRACKENBURY

By Pamelascott

Alison Brackenbury's poems are haunted by horses, unseasonable love, history, hares and unreasonable hope. Brackenbury's Selected Poems begins in the almost Victorian villages of remote Lincolnshire, where her father tramped, as a ploughboy, behind great Shires and Percherons.

Her acclaimed early poem, 'Dreams of Power', gives voice to a little-known woman from the past, Arbella Stuart, and her still-contemporary choices: safe solitude, fashionable London, dangerous love. Her song-like poems draw on years of experience of bookkeeping and manual work in industry, of VAT, of trichloroethylene on 'a thrumming lorry'.

The poems take readers to northern China winters and the damp heat of Hanoi. And always the countryside returns: its mud, its huge hares, its stubborn sun. After nine books, major prizes and national broadcasts, the rush of Brackenbury's poems are a work in wonderful progress, full of surprises and renewals.


[My old are gone, or quietly remain / Thinking me a cousin from West Ham / Or kiss me, shyly, in my mother's name MY OLD]


(@Carcanet, 28 February 2019, 216 pages, ebook, borrowed from @natpoetrylib via @OverDriveLibs)



I'd never read the poet before but wanted to read this collection because I liked the cover. This seemed a pretty good a reason to discover a new poet. I'm glad I did. The stand-out piece from the collection is the epic poem, Dreams of Power which tells the story of Arbella Stuart, a possible successor to Queen Elizabeth 1 who died in the Tower of London after being imprisoned for marrying William Seymour in secret. This 31 page poem is astonishing and I loved every word. As this is a Selected Poems collection there is a wide range of styles and subject matter on offer. I also loved The Wood at Semmering, Half-Day, Hill Mist, Epigrams and The Card. I'm glad I took a chance on this collection.

Gallop: Selected Poems @ABRACKENBURY

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