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Claiming Kindred

Claiming Kindred

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Although his earlier poems were largely narrative, D. M. Black’s latest collection, Claiming Kindred, is more concerned with exploring a wide range of forms, from the freest of free verse to sonnets and epigrams. He also shows an increased interest in passing states of mind and tones of voice – from conversational and serious to whimsical and elegiac.

"He can be wilfully prosaic, but Black's witty meditations - from bumblebees to Iraq - draw the reader into a subtle new light."
Kate Kellaway, The Observer

"DM Black's Claiming Kindred is a welcoming book of poems... each poem [moves] about its business with a conversational, avuncular authority."
Jack Underwood, Poetry London

"Claiming Kindred is D. M. Black’s fifth full collection; but, since its predecessor appeared about twenty years ago, his name may not be as well-known as it deserves to be."

"He has a wry sense of humour – 'Imagine being poor bloody Jerusalem, / Unsmilingly screwed by three inexhaustible lovers. / Wouldn’t it be better to be Birmingham?” – and in his best poems, such as The Bumble Bee, The Young Woman Doctor, Pregnant Woman, St Johns on Patmos, Lindisfarne: The Ruined Priory in Sunlight and Reflections on the Eve of the Iraq War, he reveals not just his technical but his emotional, imaginative and intellectual gifts, too."
Keith Richmond, Tribune

"Half a dozen poems towards the end of the book are, alone, almost worth the price of the book."
Ian Pople

Claiming Kindred is divided into three sections: ‘Voices for Children’ – (‘of all ages’ perhaps); ‘Omens of Death’ – literal death but also the loss of ‘self’; and ‘The Toil of Love’ (a phrase from Emily Dickinson) – an attempt to speak affirmatively in an anxious epoch. The title ‘Claiming Kindred’, a phrase taken from Emily Dickinson, refers to how the individuals in the poems have a poignant awareness of the unity of all terrestrial life.

Some People Just Aren’t Reliable

Now they were nowhere to be seen. The day
Became oppressive. Trees reached silently
Against the light-filled, unapproachable sky.
The glossy pool lay shtum, and would not play.

What had come over the sun he could not judge.
The petunias’ puce had never seemed so hot.
A fly whined its unique and languid note.
Time which speeds by stood fast and would not budge.

Then they came back. They were subdued and kind,
As if to assure him he was in their mind
In that weird interval when the world was static.

And time started again. Trees became normal,
Flies buzzed as usual. But they still seemed formal –
Almost, he thought, they seemed apologetic.

D. M. Black is a Scottish poet, born in South Africa in 1941 and brought up in Scotland from 1950. He now lives in London and Wiltshire. He was included in the first series of Penguin Modern Poets (no. 11, 1968) and since then has been widely published in anthologies and journals. In 1991, he published a collection of translations of Goethe.