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Heart Work

Heart Work

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A Poetry Book Society Recommendation for 2007

From Heart work

my father
back from the wars
bringing his stories
of diving under tables
in Brighton
freezing all night on guard
in Warrington
chasing across ploughed fields
in Wales
prisoners of war

Heart work is Desmond Graham’s sixth book of poetry since 1993. A single poem sequence, it begins in the Second World War and advances in diverse and unforeseen directions as the poet attempts to understand the nature of the heart. Historical and public events blend with the private life of the poet as he learns about the world around him.

Heart work is part memoir, part a quiet and often humorous account of ‘the growth of a poet’s mind’, but always a love poem. The poem is driven by a strong narrative that involves the reader in the poet’s quest to discover what is it full of/the heart? It builds, as an oratorio builds, through motif and counterpoint, through dramatic changes of pace and tone, to its surprising finale.

Until recently Desmond Graham was Professor of Poetry at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, but is now a full-time writer with homes in Newcastle and Southern Germany. Flambard Press has published two themed collections by him, After Shakespeare (2001) and Milena Poems (2004), as well as Two Darknesses (1994), a selection of poems by the major Polish poet Anna Kamienska that he co-translated. Graham’s poems have been widely translated into Polish and French. His is also well known as the biographer and editor of the poet Keith Douglas.