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House of Tongues by Susan Wicks

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Reviewed and selected by our poetry expert, Liam Parkin.

House of Tongues is an intimate and emotional collection from Susan Wicks, encompassing small details of daily experiences, yet exploding them in a wealth of feeling and expression. Throughout the poems lies an innate undercurrent of sexuality, but Wicks is tender in her approach, and often resolves the poems through rustic and natural images. Indeed, many of the poems are set within a naturalistic environment, and her beautiful words in describing such is only the work of a talented poet. The eloquence of this collection is superb and takes us through beginnings and ends in a multitude of ways. Wicks is passionate, but knows when to reserve herself for the sake of the poem. Attentive and with an eye for the smaller things that make us who we are, Wicks creates a wonderful world for us to share.


House of Tongues by Susan Wicks

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.


'A poet of deceptive power, who can transmute everyday objects and events into poems with an understated numinous edge' - Kathleen Jamie, PBS Bulletin

'A fine poet, with an eye for detail and a gift for conveying the earthiness of everyday experience' - Jo Shapcott, Independent on Sunday

About the Author

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.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th April 2011


Susan Wicks

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Bloodaxe Books Ltd


72 pages


Poetry by individual poets



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