Linda France found the title for her new collection, You are Her, on a fading information board at Hadrian's Wall, not far from where she has lived for the past 30 years. Locating and disorientating at the same time, it set the co-ordinates for a body of work on boundaries and identity, damage and absence. Her wise and generous poems seek a place of oneness amidst inner and outer worlds, riven with dualities – the seeming paradoxes of self and society, language and experience, ideal and reality.
At the heart of the book is a section looking at Nature and Cultivation through the life and work of Capability Brown, who was born in Northumberland in 1716. These poems consider some pressing questions: how much control do we have over our environment? How does our state of mind reflect the world around us? What, in the end, will endure?
A horse-riding accident in 1995 fractured France's spine and cracked her pelvis. This injury, although on the surface healed, re-emerged in the form of flashbacks and chronic pain ten years later when several of her friends died in close succession. Many of the poems in You are Her chart the passage of grief and resolution, a cycle of re-orientation.
"There is a restless energy about her work, a fascination with the paradoxes of people, the lives we lead and the society in which we live those lives, as well as a sense of the profound sadness of the passing of time, and of people.... She writes with warmth and wit of 'windows hooked with flamingo beaks'; 'the small room where all your geese are cooked' and, enamoured as she is by the work of Capability Brown, of 'landscapes erased / by tarmac and railway, time and weather.'"
Keith Richmond, Tribune
"One thing I liked about France's collection, and this is something one hopes to find in a poet, is that many lines and stanzas stand alone as memorable and worth rereading."
"France's enthusiasm for her topic shines through, her poetry bursting with flora and fauna. However, France is also able to tame that burgeoning natural world into a series of neatly trimmed poems, as she similarly controls the excesses of physical pain."
The Warwick Review
Linda France was born in Wallsend, Newcastle upon Tyne, and for the past 16 years has lived close to Hadrian’s Wall, near Corbridge in Northumberland. She works as a poet, tutor, mentor and editor, often collaborating with visual artists, particularly in the field of Public Art. Since 1990 her poetry has won many awards and prizes as well as being carved into stone and wood, cast in metal, etched in glass, stitched onto fabric and printed on enamel. Her recurring themes are landscape and history, flora and fauna, love and identity.