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Ruth Padel has published several collections of poetry and won the National Poetry Prize; her collection Voodoo Shop was shortlisted for the Whitbread and T S Eliot Prizes. She is a Fellow of the Society of Authors and London Zoological Society.
Shortlisted for the T S Eliot Poetry Prize 2014. 'Making is our defence against the dark...' Through images of conflict and craftsmanship, Ruth Padel's powerful new poems address the Middle East, tracing a quest for harmony in the midst of destruction. An oud, the central instrument of Middle Eastern music , is made and broken. An ancient synagogue survives attacks, a Palestinian boy in a West Bank refugee camp learns capoeira, and a guide shows us Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity during a siege. At the heart of the book are Christ's last words from the Cross. Uniting this moving collection is the common ground shared by Judaism, Christianity and Islam: a vision of human life as pilgrimage and struggle but also as music and making. With care and empathy, Ruth Padel suggests how rifts in the Holy Land speak to conflict in our own hearts. 'We identify. Some chasm / through the centre must be in and of us all.'
Shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award 2009. Costa Book Awards 2009 Judges' comment: "A fascinating and original work that recreates the life of its subject in rich, diverse language."
From the author of the bestselling Darwin: A Life in Poems, Ruth Padel's new collection follows in the footsteps of one of the world's greatest composers, Beethoven, and investigates what his life and music might mean to us today Two hundred and fifty years since Beethoven was born, Ruth Padel goes on a personal search for him, retracing his steps through war-torn Europe of the early nineteenth century, delving into his music, letters, diaries and the conversation books he used when deaf, to uncover the man behind the legend. Her quest, exploring the life of one of the most creative artists who ever lived, turns more personal than she expects, taking her into the sources of her own creativity and musicality. From a deeply musical family herself, Padel's parents met through music, and she grew up playing chamber music on viola - Beethoven's instrument as a child. Her father's grandfather, a concert pianist born on the German-Danish border, studied in Leipzig with a friend of Beethoven before immigrating to the UK. The poems in this illuminating biography in verse conjure not only Beethoven's life and personality, but her own music-making and love both of the European music-making tradition to which her father's family belongs, and to the continent itself Europe.
In this series, a contemporary poet selects and introduces a poet of the past. By their choice of poems and by the personal and critical reactions they express in their prefaces, the editors offer insights into their own work as well as providing an accessible and passionate introduction to some of the greatest poets of our literature. Sir Walter Ralegh, poet, scholar, soldier and explorer, travel-writer, historian and favourite courtier of Queen Elizabeth I, was born in Devon around 1552, knighted in 1584, imprisoned twice in the Tower of London, where he wrote his History of the World, and executed in 1618. Many famous poems attributed to him, like The Passionate Man's Pilgrimage , may not actually be his. But, like the many poems written to him by the Queen and others, they testify to what Ralegh stood for in the Elizabethan age, as a poet and a man.
London today is embattled as rarely before. In a city of enormous wealth, poverty is rampant. The burnt-out hulk of Grenfell Tower stands as an appalling reminder that inequality can be so acute as to be murderous. Here, Claire Armitstead has drawn together fiction, reportage and poetry to capture the schisms defining the contemporary city. With nearly 40% of the capital's population born outside the country, Tales of Two Londons eschews what Armitstead labels a tyranny of tone, emphasising voices rarely heard. Featuring writers such as Ali Smith, Jon Snow, Arifa Akbar and Ruth Padel alongside stories from previously unpublished immigrants and refugees, this is a compelling collection which captures the fabric of the city: its housing, its food, its pubs, its buses, even its graveyards.
An elegy to a lost mother, Emerald is the moving new collection from prize-winning poet Ruth Padel 'Here in deep earth, the black blossom of mourning still sifting within me I remembered that emerald was my birthstone ...' Prize-winning poet Ruth Padel's heartfelt new collection is a grief observed: an elegy for her mother on her death at the age of ninety-seven. Exploring the riches of emerald lore, Padel follows the glint of green - 'green for awakening / for bringing life back from the dead' - from memories of her mother, a naturalist, to the black honeycomb of a Colombian emerald mine and sunset-pink of the Emerald City, Jaipur. Beneath everything shines the jewel itself, 'the only stone in which the flaws are prized'. Beautifully carved and cadenced, Emerald is a moving chronicle of value and loss, and a celebration of all that is precious in the life that remains.
Beautifully illustrated and exquisitely musical, Tidings is a poem to be read out loud and cherished. 'Come with me to St Pancras Old Church, on a little London hill...' It's Christmas Eve and on this enchanted night Charoum, the Angel of Silence, can speak. As night turns to day, he unfolds a resonant story of a little girl, a homeless man and a fox... In the tradition of Charles Dickens and Dylan Thomas, Tidings takes us on a journey into the heart of Christmas, showing us celebrations down the ages and across the globe - as dawn sweeps from East Australia to Bethlehem, from London to the Statue of Liberty in New York. This is Christmas in all its magic, reminding us that it is a time not only of good tidings, but of loneliness and longing, compassion and connection.
Fusewire has the fierce historical awareness and linguistic energy of Ruth Padel's previous collections but moves into new territory and new clarity. Poems on British activity in Ireland through the ages intrude on an intensely moving series of love poems which reverse sexual cliches of colonisation: here Britain is female and Ireland the high-profile man. From the prize-winning poet of Rembrandt Would Have Loved You, Voodoo Shop and The Soho Leopard, all shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize.
Home is where you start from, but where is a swallow's real home? And what does 'native' mean if the English oak is an immigrant from Spain?In a selection of richly varied poems and illuminating prose interludes from her collection The Mara Crossing, Ruth Padel weaves science, myth, wild nature and human history to conjure a world created and sustained by migration. 'We're all from somewhere else,' she begins, tracing the millennia-old journeys of cells, trees, birds and beasts. Geese battle raging winds over Mount Everest, lemurs skim precipices in Madagascar and wildebeest, at the climax of their epic trek from Tanzania, brave a river filled with the largest, hungriest crocodiles in Africa. Human migration has shaped civilisation but today is one of the greatest challenges the world faces. In a series of incisive portraits, Padel turns to the struggles of human displacement - the Flight into Egypt, John James Audubon emigrating to America (feeding migrant birds en route), migrant workers in Mumbai and refugees labouring over a drastically changing planet - to show how the purpose of migration, for both humans and animals, is survival.Poignant, thought-provoking and utterly compelling, here is a magnificent tapestry of life on the move from the acclaimed author of Darwin: A Life in Poems.
A family in crisis - and the wider world of wildlife in crisis too. Rosamund, unable to communicate with her philandering husband or teenage son, alienated from her zoologist father, feels cut off also from the jungle world of her Indian childhood. What if she goes back into it? Rustling with animals of which most humans are unaware, set in London, ancient Devon woodland and the endangered forests of India, this is a eye-opening foray into love, terror and the place of wild nature in human lives.
In these extraordinary poems, using multiple viewpoints - from Darwin himself, to his beloved wife Emma, and even, at one point, the orangutang at London Zoo - Ruth Padel illuminates the development of Darwin's thought, the drama of the discovery of evolution, and the fluctuating emotions of Darwin the husband, the naturalist and the tender father, in a powerful tribute to her famous ancestor. Shortlisted for the 2009 Costa Poetry Award.
In this innovative series of public lectures at Newcastle University, leading contemporary poets speak about the craft and practice of poetry to audiences drawn from both the city and the university. The lectures are then published in book form by Bloodaxe, giving readers everywhere the opportunity to learn what the poets themselves think about their own subject. Ruth Padel's lectures link metaphor to silence and white space on a page. Equating a poem's music with its politics, she explores tone, register and harmony, suggesting that how poems hold our attention is through tension . Finally, she investigates what it means for poems that they are given to other people. With her trademark blend of literary analysis, psychological and mythical learning, an intimate knowledge of Greek poetics plus a generous and joyful trust in the energy of today's poetry, Ruth Padel plumbs unheard rhymes, Echo and Narcissus, the silent music of John Cage, and what happens when Paul Durcan plays Seamus Heaney at ping pong. She wears her erudition lightly, paying playful attention to the resonances of many different poems - and to their smaller atoms, words and syllables. A fascinating and groundbreaking book, Silent Letters of the Alphabet is a gift for anyone writing, reading or teaching poetry today.
Prize-winning poet Ruth Padel is renowned as a guide to understanding today's poetry. Her much-loved 52 Ways of Looking at a Poem introduced the contemporary poetry scene and discussed individual poems. Her new book, invaluable for all who want to write as well as read poems, reveals the journey of thought, language and music within sixty more poems and also shows how poems fortify us on the journey of our lives, in a collection of essays written in elegant, accessible prose.
When Ruth Padel saw an advert for a cheap break to India, she decided to visit what she had always wanted to see: tropical jungle and a wildlife sanctuary. Her impromptu trip was the start of a remarkable two-year journey in search of that most elusive and beautiful animal: the tiger. Armed with her granny's opera glasses and a pair of Tunisian trainers, she sets off across Asia to ask the question: can the tiger be saved from extinction in the wild? Plunging into leech-infested jungles, she tracks tigers by jeep, by elephant and on foot, from Bangladesh to Bhutan, from China to far-east Russia. The result is a unique blend of natural history, travel literature and memoir, and an intimate portrait of an animal we have loved and feared almost to destruction.
Beautiful, disturbing and a pleasure to read, Ruth Padel's new poems are her most ambitious yet, adding animal legend and zoological science to her glitteringly imaginative canvas. With her gift for bringing together experiences and tones of voice that normally stay far apart, she sweeps us from Dulwich Pizza Hut to ancient Siberia, King's Cross to nineteenth-century Burma. We meet Socrates, urban foxes, Louisiana alligators and the endangered Amur leopard in poems resonating with sensuous delight in nature, but also with history and loss. Finally, a Chinese painter searches for tigers in a forest doomed to the sawmill while the minister who sold it scoffs an aphrodisiac bowl of tiger-penis soup. Hallucinatory and lyrical, passionately musical, seething with life, The Soho Leopard explores our human need for wildness- and also for stories, wherever we find them. A wonderfully ferocious new collection from one of our most exciting poets.
Ever wondered about how to really interpret poetry? Puzzled about metre, rhyming and stanzas? Presented in language thoroughly accessible for all, poet and writer Ruth Padel demystifies poetic style, structure and meaning in this comprehensive anthology of modern poems Based on the author's popular column in The Independent on Sunday, each poem is accompanied by an informative and entertaining explanatory excerpt by Padel. Featuring an assortment of contemporary poets from Carol Ann Duffy to Seamus Heaney, the collection thematically encompasses universal subjects of love, sex, family, death, as well as more obscure matters - for instance, loneliness when listening to the shipping forecast. A poem for each week of the year, Padel's exploration of the literary form expertly combines technical analysis with imaginative, creative interpretation - sure to make any reader fall in love with the modern verse. 'She argues away the idea that contemporary poetry is difficult : all it needs is a little work and the rewards are great' Sunday Times
Voodoo Shop begins with a love letter from the innocent Tatyana to the sophisticated Eugene Onegin and ends with a haunting meditation on departure and migration. In the intervening poems, Ruth Padel takes her reader on a series of spectacular journeys across the world and into the complex landscape of an intense love affair. Renowned for the dazzling scope of her imagination, and for her linguistic and formal adventurousness, Padel reveals herself to be at the height of her powers in this collection. The poems are wonderfully different, shifting from witty exuberance to quiet restraint in the blink of an eye, leaping from Ireland to Brazil as the page turns. One minute they are in sumptuous technicolour, the next minute in black and white. They are grand poems addressed to a large audience and crowded with other people - Tori Amos and Bridget Riley make an appearance - and yet they are also starkly intimate: the solitary voice of a woman opening her heart to a man. This is a collection about separation and unity, the search for forms of faith in the face of confusion, for a personal voodoo. In their structure and ordering the poems reflect their themes: like the tesserae of a mosaic, their shimmering diversity makes perfect sense when viewed together.