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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."
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.
Ruth Padel's passionate new collection is a woman's eye view of a love affair, with darker undercurrents of mortality and loss. Shifting between vulnerability and guilt, innocence and doubt, tenderness and frustration, teasing reproach and the exaltation of deep love and sexual happiness, Padel's extraordinarily bold and intimate book explores the complexity of emotions that go with falling in love. Wonderfully versatile in tone, it blends the lyrical and the colloquial, formality and wit, myth and the Spice Girls. It includes the poem that won the 1996 National Poetry Competition 'Icicles round a tree in Dumfriesshire'.
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.
Ruth Padel explores Greek conceptions of human innerness and the way in which Greek tragedy shaped European notions of mind and self. Arguing that Greek poetic language connects images of consciousness, even male consciousness, with the darkness attributed to Hades and to women, Padel analyzes tragedy's biological and daemonological metaphors for what is within.