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Black Cat Bone by John Burnside
  

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Winner of the T S Eliot Prize for Poetry 2011.

Gillian Clarke, Chair of the judges, said:
'Amongst an unprecedentedly strong and unusually well-received shortlist, John Burnside’s Black Cat Bone is a haunting book of great beauty, powered by love, childhood memory, human longing and loneliness. In an exceptional year, it is an outstanding book, one which the judges felt grew with every reading.'

Reviewed and selected by our poetry expert, Liam Parkin.

John Burnside’s new collection Black Cat Bone is a beautifully lyrical set of poetry. It opens with The Fair Chase which encapsulates the tone of the entire book; of the spiritual and memory, not to mention exploration of faiths. Burnside isolates us within his often tense and haunting atmosphere, and his poems are a search for something inside; whether it is meaning or resolution. Indeed, many of the poems search for the unknowable, and perfectly locate us within the realm of the forgotten or lost. He retains images of the bestial and the forests throughout, both of which are transcended to reflect on the nature of us as humans. He is one of the most powerful lyric poets today, and this collection is a remarkable journey into the hidden.

Click here to visit the Poetry Book Society page for Reading Groups and to download extracts from the T S Eliot Prize shortlist.

If you like John Burnside you might also like to read books by Julian Barnes, Graham Swift and Kathleen Winter.

Synopsis

Black Cat Bone by John Burnside

Winner of the T S Eliot Prize for Poetry 2011.

John Burnside's remarkable new book is full of strange, unnerving poems that hang in the memory like a myth or a song. These are poems of thwarted love and disappointment, of raw desire, of the stalking beast, 'eye-teeth/and muzzle/coated with blood'; poems that recognise 'we have too much to gain from the gods, and this is why/they fail to love us'; and, poems that tell of an obsessive lover coming to grief in a sequence that echoes the old murder ballads, or of a hunter losing himself in the woods while pursuing an unknown and possibly unknowable quarry. Drawing on sources as various as the paintings of Pieter Brueghel and the lyrics of Delta blues, Black Cat Bone examines varieties of love, faith, hope and illusion, to suggest an unusual possibility: that when the search for what we expected to find - in the forest or in our own hearts - ends in failure, we can now begin the hard and disciplined quest for what is actually there. Full of risk and wonder, Black Cat Bone shows the range of Burnside's abilities, but also strikes out for new territories. He remains consistently, though, one of our finest living lyric poets and each of these astonishing poems is as clear and memorable as 'a silver bracelet/falling for days/through an inch and a half/of ice'.


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Reviews

The unmistakable work of a master -- Bernard O'Donoghue * Times Literary Supplement * A tour de force of liminal expression... Burnside is not a wispily ethereal poet. A stretch of country crossed during the hunt is captured in oils, not in thin watercolours...poignantly luminous...[an] engrossing collection -- M. Wynn Thomas * Guardian * Black Cat Bone is a deserving winner of this year's Forward Prize for best collection. John Burnside's twelfth volume adds to and deepens a body of poetry that is already exceptionally significant - and utterly recognisable. A musician and chromaticist, he's a poet whose rapt, floating verse conjures up effects of great beauty in both the ear and the imagination -- Fiona Sampson * Independent * A haunting book of great beauty, powered by love, childhood memory, human longing and loneliness. In an exceptional year, it is an outstanding book, one which the judges felt grew with every reading -- Gillian Clarke, chair of the T.S. Eliot Prize One of the most gifted poets writing today -- Paul Batchelor * Times Literary Supplement *


About the Author

John Burnside has published eleven previous collections of poetry, including among them The Asylum Dance, which won the 2000 Whitbread Poetry Award, and six works of fiction - most recently the novel, A Summer of Drowning, which came out this year. He has also written two books of memoirs, A Lie About My Father and Waking Up In Toytown.

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Book Info

Publication date

4th August 2011

Author

John Burnside

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Author's Website

johnburnside.com/

Publisher

Jonathan Cape Ltd an imprint of Vintage Publishing

Format

Paperback
80 pages

Categories

Poetry
All Shortlists and Winners
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Poetry by individual poets

ISBN

9780224093859

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