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Susan Wicks has published three books of poetry with Bloodaxe: House of Tongues (2011), De-iced (2007), and Night Toad: New & Selected Poems (2003), which included a new collection with selections from three earlier books published by Faber: Singing Underwater, winner of the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival Prize; Open Diagnosis, which was one of the Poetry Society's New Generation Poets titles; and The Clever Daughter, a Poetry Book Society Choice which was shortlisted for both T.S. Eliot and Forward Prizes. She has also published two novels and a short memoir, Driving My Father. Her translation of Valerie Rouzeau's Cold Spring in Winter (Arc, 2009) was shortlisted for the 2010 International Griffin Poetry Prize and the Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize. Born and raised in Kent, she lives in Tunbridge Wells, and teaches at Goldsmiths' College, London.
House of Tongues is concerned with acceptance and refusal, power and the lack of it, silence and the refusal of silence. It's also a book full of the sadness and exhilaration of leaving - of saying an often ambivalent goodbye to people and places, a job, friends lost through illness, sex, innocence - and of the precarious process of patiently setting out again. Far from remembered in tranquillity, the emotion here is re-enacted in the book's surprising coda - a series of poems set in the Swedish Hanseatic harbour town of Visby and based on its many colourful stories, from medieval to more modern times. In these poems, tongues mix and entwine in the mouths of unlikely personae in an atmosphere of vengeance and betrayal that throw a retrospective light on the more contemporary themes and material that form the body of Susan Wicks's latest collection.