The poems ask: What do we want from our lives? Is it worth having? What would we like to change in ourselves and our circumstances? Are arguments worth the effort? Is anything achieved by them? Death is unavoidable and all our battles are in vain in the end, so we should choose what to defend, what to fight for and how much of the quality of our lives we are prepared to sacrifice in the process. If only we could make the best of what we are, with the abilities we are given ñ and develop ñ without being distracted by the conflicts and desires that too often define us, and which are ultimately unimportant.
The Book of Mirrors examines the ideas of argument, resolution and the acceptance of what cannot be changed. It also includes poems relating to childhood memories, adolescent experiences and encounters with itinerant wildlife.
"... she has chosen to write poems about her experiences of illness and death and despair; these are things that would flatten a lesser human being, but it is to her eternal credit that she has survived and given us poems that are unflinching in their gaze and precise in their description."
"An accomplished painter, she brings to her poetry the same landscape of contrasts, in her vivid descriptions of light and dark, struggle and release, the cleansing properties of fire. She is a courageous poet with a rich palette."
Maura Dooley & Jamie McKendrick, Poetry Book Society Bulletin
"This is poetry come out of siege."
John Kinsella, Observer
"There was a dark energy about Hughes that was irresistible... it was impossible not to like her. What I enjoyed best was that she switched so hungrily between light and shade."
Elisabeth Mahoney, The Guardian (on Hughes' appearance on Radio 3's 'Private Passions')
Frieda Hughes was born in London in 1960, grew up in Devon, and after living in various parts of England and Australia now lives on the Welsh Borders. She wrote and painted from an early age, and for many years has been a painter and childrenís writer. She has published four poetry collections with Bloodaxe, Wooroloo (1999), Stonepicker (2001), Waxworks (2002) and The Book of Mirrors (2009). She received a NESTA Award in 2002 to help her work on Forty-five, her portrait of her life in 45 poems and paintings, the poems from which were published by HarperCollins in the US in 2006.