What is the Purpose of Your Visit?

What is the Purpose of Your Visit?

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What Is the Purpose of Your Visit? is Wanda Barford’s fourth poetry collection and her most varied. Whereas her first two books are thematically coherent and unified, this new volume is divided into four contrasting sections, each with its own rationale.

The substantial opening section, ‘So Goodbye Twentieth Century’, is for the most part a retrospective farewell to recent history, including the Jewish experience on which her imagination draws so deeply. A sequence of sonnets celebrating love in old age, ‘Singing Like a Woman in Love’, forms the second section, while the third section, ‘Shadows and Mountains’, is another sequence of poems, this time inspired by a study tour of Israel. The book concludes with ‘Four Satires and a Parody’, revealing an unexpected side of her talent.

Wanda Barford was born in Milan, but as a child left Mussolini’s Italy with her parents for Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) to escape anti-Jewish persecution. She eventually settled in London, where she studied at the Royal College of Music. She has been a runner-up in the H. H. Wingate/Jewish Quarterly Poetry Competition, and her first collection, Sweet Wine and Bitter Herbs, was shortlisted for the Jewish Quarterly Literary Prize in 1997. Her second collection, A Moon at the Door, followed in 1999, with a third, Losing, Finding, in 2002.