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White Ink Stains

by Eleanor Brown

White Ink Stains Synopsis

Eleanor Brown's first collection, Maiden Speech, published by Bloodaxe in 1996, included her much anthologised girlfriend's revenge poem 'Bitcherel' along with a widely praised sequence of fifty love and end-of-love sonnets written during her 20s. Her second collection, White Ink Stains, appearing three decades later, draws on the lives of women of all ages. Taking her title from the idea that when a woman writes about her experience as a woman, 'she writes in white ink' (Helene Cixous), Eleanor Brown wanted to inscribe, among other things, the unseen labour of endowing infants with their mother tongue, their birthright of speech and language skills - the babbling, cooing, phonic repetition, echolalia, chanting of nonsense-words, singing of lullabies, nursery rhymes, counting rhymes, clapping songs, and telling of bedtime stories that is often the invisible and unrecorded work of women with pre-school-age children. A number of these poems were written in response to interviews made for the Reading Sheffield oral history project. Eleanor Brown spent over a year listening to recordings before starting to write these poems, some of which stay very faithful to the speaker's own words, while others travel further into an imaginative or active, poetic listening; these are the poems she heard not in what was said, but in pauses, intonations, emphasis, whispers, asides, digressions and deflections.

White Ink Stains Press Reviews

Eleanor Brown's breathtaking debut collection... she displays the sharp wit of a Moliere, with graceful, cerebral rhymes that leave a bitter aftertaste. Ever insightful and enormously funny, she juxtaposes moving descriptions with killer punchlines. * Time Out, on Maiden Speech * Rarely have I read so refreshing and engaging a first collection. On display are wit, wordplay and an exhilarating flexibility of rhyme and rhythm. Alongside a barmaid's address to the Lads is a succulent celebration of a wedding-cake. Jaundiced Sirens laconically slide closing couplets in, like rapiers. A subtly sustained and cunningly crafted sonnet sequence, assessing an affair, comprises the last rites it abjures. Love's assumptions are laid bare after the manner of a female Catullus or Alceste. Mistress of the telling phrase, Eleanor Brown seems as joyously drawn to her themes, and their expression, as music draws a dancer . -- Stewart Conn

Book Information

ISBN: 9781780374949
Publication date: 24th October 2019
Author: Eleanor Brown
Publisher: Bloodaxe Books Ltd
Format: Paperback / softback
Pagination: 72 pages
Categories: Poetry by individual poets,

About Eleanor Brown

Eleanor Brown was born in 1969 and lived in Scotland until the age of 12. She studied English Literature at York. Since graduating she has worked variously as a waitress, barmaid, legal secretary, and minutes secretary, to be able to work also as a poet and translator of poetry. In 2001-2002 she was Creative Writing Fellow at the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde. She now lives, works, writes, sings (alto) and dances (Argentine tango) in Sheffield. Her debut collection, Maiden Speech, published by with Bloodaxe in 1996, was shortlisted for the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. She was one of the ...

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