Fleur Adcock began writing the poems in this book when she was 82. The two chief settings are New Zealand, with its multi-coloured seas, and Britain, seen in various decades. There are foreign travels, flirtations, family memories, deaths and conversations with the dead. Katherine Mansfield, incognito, dodges an academic conference; there’s a lesson in water divining as well as a rather unusual Christmas party. We meet several varieties of small mammal, numerous birds, doomed or otherwise, and some sheep. The book ends with a sequence in memory of her friend, the poet Roy Fisher.
‘The Mermaid’s Purse, the 16th collection by Fleur Adcock, is a disparate set of dispatches, traversing the seas of New Zealand as well as alighting closer to home. There is little that escapes Adcock’s eye… What unites the poems is Adcock’s tone, at once beguiling yet with plenty of bite among the pleasantries, which knows that wisdom often comes best wrapped in disguise as a joke.’ – Rishi Dastidar, The Guardian
'It is not easy to be both elegiac and matter-of-fact but, in this tribute to Fisher, Adcock’s wit and honesty channel grief and loss.' - Theresa Sowerby, Orbis [on Fleur Adcock's tribute to poet Roy Fisher in The Mermaid's Purse]
'This eclectic ensemble from celebrated poet Fleur Adcock dances through the landscapes and histories of New Zealand and Britain. Adcock’s adroit, witty verse is a joy to read, and Mermaid’s Purse is completed by a moving sequence in memory of Roy Fisher, honouring her friend with a turn of phrase everyone would wish to be memorialized by: “gifted with wits, with wit, with a brain / that these witless times can’t easily spare”.' - Poetry Book Society Bulletin
‘Informality and immediacy are vivid ways to remake a world; and Adcock’s style has not dated in the half-century since her debut.’ – Fiona Sampson, Guardian [on Glass Wings]
‘Fleur Adcock’s poetry is lauded for its composure and ease of delivery. Yet that sense of control…belies a more complicated history.’ – Julian Stannard, Times Literary Supplement
‘Fleur Adcock is as clear-eyed as always in a collection that ranges widely over lost worlds, family histories …but always maintains the art of seemingly artless observation.’ – Adam Newey, Guardian (Best Poetry of 2013) [on Glass Wings]