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Caroline Bird is a poet and playwright. She has five previous collections of poetry published by Carcanet. Her most recent collection, In These Days of Prohibition, was shortlisted for the 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize and the Ted Hughes Award. A two-time winner of the Foyle Young Poets Award, her first collection Looking Through Letterboxes was published in 2002 when she was 15. She won an Eric Gregory Award in 2002 and was shortlisted for the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize in 2001 and the Dylan Thomas Prize in 2008 and 2010. She was shortlisted for Most Promising New Playwright at the Off-West-End Awards, and was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Her theatre credits include: The Trojan Women (Gate Theatre, 2012), The Trial of Dennis the Menace (Purcell Room, 2012), Chamber Piece (Lyric Hammersmith, 2013), The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Northern Stage, 2015), and The Iphigenia Quartet (Gate Theatre, 2016). She was one of the five official poets at the 2012 London Olympics.
The Air Year is a time of flight, transition and suspension: signatures scribbled on the sky. Bird's speakers exist in a state of unrest, trapped in a liminal place between take-off and landing, undeniably lost. Love is uncontrollable, joy comes and goes at hurricane speed. They walk to the cliff edge, close their eyes and step out into the air. Caroline Bird has five previous collections published by Carcanet. Her fifth collection, In These Days of Prohibition, was shortlisted for the 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize and the Ted Hughes Award.
Based on ten years of surveys and excavations in Nyiyaparli country in the eastern Chichester Ranges, north-west Australia, Crafting Country provides a unique synthesis of Holocene archaeology in the Pilbara region. The analysis of about 1000 sites, including surface artefact scatters and 19 excavated rock shelters, as well as thousands of isolated artefacts, takes a broad view of the landscape, examining the distribution of archaeological remains in time and space. Heritage compliance archaeology commonly focuses on individual sites, but this study reconsiders the evidence at different scales - at the level of artefact, site, locality, and region - to show how Aboriginal people interacted with the land and made their mark on it.Crafting Country shows that the Nyiyaparli 'crafted' their country, building structures and supplying key sites with grindstones, raw material and flaked stone cores. In so doing, they created a taskscape of interwoven activities linked by paths of movement.
Shortlisted for the 2017 Ted Hughes Award. Shortlisted for the 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize. In These Days of Prohibition is Caroline Bird's fifth Carcanet collection. As always, she is a poet of dark hilarity and telling social comment. Shifting between poetic and vulgar registers, the surreal imagery of her early work is re-deployed to venture into the badlands of the human psyche. Her poems hold their subjects in an unflinching grip, addressing faces behind the veneer, asking what it is that keeps us alive. These days of prohibition are days of intoxication and inebriation, rehab in a desert and adultery for atheists, until finally Bird edges us out of danger, `revving on a wish'.
In this pitch-black comedy, fatal chemicals combine with ruthless ambition, biscuits, bureaucracy and moral ambiguity. Set in the near future, Britain has reinstated the death penalty. Relatives are weeping in the witness gallery, the journalist clicks her pen and the prison governor gives the thumbs up. Rapist murderer Richard Sanger is strapped to the gurney. Chamber Piece depicts a modern, British execution. How would it look? How would we feel? And what could possibly go wrong?
Playful in earnest, Caroline Bird in her fourth book of poems turns familiar stories on their heads. Adrift in a surreal world of the everyday, Bird's protagonists declaim Chekhov in supermarkets, purchase mail-order tears, sing love-songs to hat-stands. At the centre of the collection Bird evokes the sinister side of Camelot, haunted by the experiments of its crazed tyrant-king. Bird's characters and voices are at once savvy and vulnerable; underlying the exuberance is empathy with those who have lost themselves somewhere along the way. The everyday world of The Hat-Stand Union is beautiful, ominous and full of surprise.
Caroline Bird's two earlier collections were acclaimed for their exuberant energy, surreal imagination and passion - 'a bit of a Howl for a new generation', wrote the Hudson Review . Watering Can celebrates life as an early twenty-something. The poems, writes Caroline Bird, 'contain prophetic videos, a moon colonised by bullies, weeping scholars, laughing ducks, silent weddings - all the fertiliser that pours on top of your head.' The extraordinary verve and compassion of her verse propels us into the anxiety of new responsibilities. Raw but never hopeless, Watering Can has comedy, wordplay and bright self-deprecation.
Following Looking Through Letterboxes , her first collection (2002), Caroline Bird was acclaimed as a vivid and precocious new talent. Trouble Came to the Turnip confirms her originality as she strikes out again in new directions, taking nothing for granted. Her poems are ferociously vital, fantastical, sometimes violent, almost always savagely humorous and self-mocking. Caroline Bird's world is inhabited by failed and (less often) successful relationships, by the dizzying crisis of early adulthood, by leprechauns and spells and Miss Pringle's seven lovely daughters waiting to spring out of a cardboard cake, and the turnip.
Caroline Bird at first appears to be a traditional story-teller. But the stories she tells are suspended, charged with metaphor, and built upon foundations strangely familiar: fairy tale, fantasy and the sweet-bitter world of romance. The further one reads in her haunted tales, the more remarkable becomes the variety of forms, metres and rhythms she uses, and the clearer their appropriateness. Things are not ever as they seem, and the poems bring us closer to how the world 'really' is for this talented teenager. They work metaphorically through our expectations and prejudices, which she rearranges and reanimates ('with a step/in your dance, a forecast for lightning'), or those that relate to the world of childhood ('I came to see if you were okay') where language itself has never quite got a grip. In the poems of Caroline Bird gender politics are starkly redefined, as are the languages with which generations communicate and fail to agree.