Well actually I don’t, but now that summer is just around the corner I can at least tell you what we think you should be reading this summer!
Look out for these upcoming releases on our website.
by Kate Bingham
Perceptive, persuasive and intricately made, the poems of Kate Bingham’s third collection, Infragreen, take the reader on a startling and unfamiliar journey through everyday experiences and phenomena. Her keen eye, reflectiveness and quiet wit endow her subjects with a shimmering freshness.
Set within the four walls of home, on the streets of north London and in the Yorkshire countryside, the poems build out from mundane activities such as taking the pill, traveling a daily bus route and scything thistles. In Bingham’s hands, the familiar sights and hypnotic routines that normally lull the brain into unthinking acquiescence are the starting points for finding new richness in the world around us and our participation in it.
The book contains three sections, each infused by a different season and place, but a spirit of serious play presides throughout. Contemporary versions of Hardy and Frost, a collage cut from old favourite Christmas carols, and a refleshing of some of English poetry’s oldest clichés are part of it, but so too is Bingham’s fascination with pattern: the patterning required by some of poetry’s stricter traditional forms, and pattern as content, a subject in itself.
Those who know Bingham’s earlier work will recognize in this collection her playful, often darkly comic, appreciation of the surreal, which features hearts and hands, feet, and even a pair of shoes with minds and agenda of their own. Elsewhere, a milk-bottle breathes, a pocket of air turns into a winged creature, flies serenade the poet whose mortal scent has drawn them into her room. A ballad at the start of the final section tells the story of an artisan paper-maker whose origami creation is so perfect it comes to life, only to be destroyed again by its maker.
But beneath the gently cynical, almost self-deprecating tone lie Infragreen’s darker themes: a base note of environmental and existential anxiety in which teasing self-deprecation can mutate into a desire for disembodiment, and a ruthless wishing away of consciousness and self.
by Alun Lewis
Morlais is Alun Lewis’s unpublished novel from the late 1930s. The Laurentian story of a young boy growing up in the poverty stricken industrial valleys of south Wales, it also reflects Lewis’s own experiences, particularly his search for self-knowledge and his conviction that he would be a writer.
Miner’s son Morlais Jenkins is already being educated away from his background at grammar school when he is adopted, on the death of her own son, by the wife of the local local colliery owner. Morlais’s parents recognize the opportunity for their son to make a better future, but they must all pay a great price. Stifled by middle class life, his adoptive mother recognizes that Morlais will be a poet and encourages him to be neither working class or middle class, but true to his talent.
Full of vivid descriptive passages of life in the fictional mining valley, and centred on the conflicted character of Morlais and the decisions he faces over his two families, his two social backgrounds, and his desire to be a poet, the novel is an enthralling journey through the life of a young boy becoming a young man.
Alun Lewis (1915-1944) was the outstanding writer of World War Two and Morlais, written in his mid twenties, is an early indication of the talented writer he would become just five years later. This edition is accompanied by an Afterword by Lewis’s biographer, John Pikoulis.
The Road to Zagora
by Richard Collins
When Richard Collins was diagnosed with a progressive incurable disease in 2006 he decided to see as much of the world as he could while his condition allowed. The result is The Road to Zagora, a singular travel book which takes in India, Nepal, Syria, Turkey, Morocco, Peru, Equador and Wales. ‘Mr Parkinson’, as Collins refers to his condition, informs the narrative.
As inveterate walkers Collins and his partner Flic decided to continue to travel ‘close to the land’ post diagnosis, leaving the tourist trails and visiting places of extremes: the Himalayas, rainforests, deserts. The difficulties of rough terrain, altitude, extremes of climate for a person with Collins’ condition are an ongoing strand of his narrative; occasionally they cannot be overcome and Collins is forced to consider the frailties of the human body in passages of moving contemplation.
The Road to Zagora also includes an element of memoir, as Parkinson’s Disease also causes Collins to reflect on his life, and in particular on his relationship with Flic. There are moments of great charm as their relationship evolves, and also the drama of previous serious illnesses. These recollections of pre-diagnosis life have the wistfulness of hindsight as Collins considers what constitutes a life well lived.
Yet any sentiment or self-pity is denied through Collins’s resolute and independent- mindedness and the quality of writing. In the travel passages the readers experiences the sheer physicality of Collins’ expeditions, along with his novelist’s eye for telling local detail. In the sequences of memoir the writing is humane, compassionate and quite often comic. The Road to Zagora is a memorable journey around the world, and the self.