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Billack's Bones

Authors: Joanna Guthrie

Published by The Rialto

ISBN: 9780955127304

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As birds come whistling and flute and croon like
jazz, the caw of a voice cracks over the field.
It bounces across the ridges. Wind slides through:
a belly – gathers before and draws behind: a sweep.
Sweet, pineful breaths of living air
bare themselves and wait, into the season.

As birdsong stitches fat air like a blanket,
a bark break, and swallows whole itself, no more.
The sky spreads down, an open-mouthed heart,
to lead, and press its muscles on the leaves
which have such baby bones they do no bleeding.
And little legs and stalks walk around to feel it.

'In this extraordinary first collection, the poems have a startling clarity, a way of illuminating and re-inventing the physical universe. This is a poet who hasn't succumbed to the fashion for shallow comment, for wry, slyly observed anecdote; who's not afraid to address metaphysical concerns, to connect with the ancient and eternal, to feel herself part of a world that cannot be merely quantified and described, but yields both pain and delight, understanding and mystery. Joanna Guthrie is an astonishing new voice and we should cherish her gifts'.
— Catherine Smith

'Joanna Guthrie's work registers sensation with a bright keen instrument but it moves beyond sensation and the occasionally hallucinatory effect of it that produces surprising, orginal and apt combinations. Because it is not only the experience but the language itself that shimmers with that strange extra clarity. In a gorgeous poem called "The Journey of Milk" she tells how it "Reaches through dark lanes, fat rivers, / materialises fast". There is a tenderness and depth and understanding in Guthrie's work throughout, an understanding of those dark lanes and fat rivers that commands admiration.'
— George Szirtes

Joanna Guthrie was born in London in 1970 and grew up near Diss on the Norfolk-Suffolk border. She has written since childhood and has been published as a poet for the last ten years. In between travelling and idling, she has done various jobs, most notably in homelessness and mental health. She completed an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Exeter in 2006 and was shortlisted in the Creative Non-Fiction category of New Writing Partnership's New Writing Ventures. She is currently working on a political travelogue/memoir as a result of this with the support of a grant from the Arts Council. After a decade living in the West Country, she's currently living in Norwich.

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