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Fold

by Lucy Wadham
£10 (pub. 2020)

Better known as a novelist and as author of the best-selling The Secret Life of France (Faber & Faber), Lucy Wadham brings her knowledge of France, and her experiences as an outsider, to her debut poetry collection. From the remote Cévennes mountains, where “a man and a woman sit bent / over their soup, her thoughts / silenced for years, rising like smoke” (Dissent), via Croatia, Italy and Scotland, with “The small boy with his square / of blue crochet, his broad brogue: / I’m gonnae call ma babby Finn MacCool” (Crossing Mull), Lucy’s skills as an observer strike at the heart of what it means to be human.

 


Praise for Fold:

“Observant and imaginative, these poems stake out the world of experience and feelings with enough confidence to make the reader believe the poet must have been writing them for twenty years, not five. They have a wonderful sense of drama, and above all know how to begin and how to stop. The best poems here have a sharpness and brilliance that transcends the private material that can sometimes be powerful for the writer but not for anyone else. Rich in a sympa- thetic sensibility, they are outward-looking as well as inwardly analytical. And they manage to be funny as well.”

John Fuller

 

“The definition of the title word ‘Fold’ that introduces this assured first collection exactly reflects its measured blend of fierce reality and tenderness. Wadham has an eye for the smallest detail that allows us to see ‘the way poetry is falling all around us.’ She celebrates the beauty and surprise of the natural world, the resourcefulness of individuals, the power of friendship and family. Especially poignant is her portrayal of rural and farming life in the Cévennes, and her loving engagement with her children. Always generous and compassionate, often wryly humorous and occasionally ribald, this is a poet utterly confident in her craftsmanship. Her poems are richly textured, sensuous tributes to both inner and outer landscapes, and Wadham never fails to go beyond the specifics of everyday events and encounters, to create a wider resonance. Light and dark, life and death are never far apart: ‘The Vikings are always coming. The question is how to meet them.’”

Elisabeth Rowe


Cocktail Hour at Diocletian's Palace
               

Half-palace, half-barracks, villa and castrum,  
and I’m like, no way and he goes, come on babe
home to this low-born emperor, son of a freed slave,
and I’m like, you’re dreaming if you think I’m gonna walk around
its gigantic portals – argentea, ferrea, aenea, aurea –
with your name tattooed on my arse
open north, east, west or seaward,
and he goes, but I did it, didn’t I? And I’m like,
its shining marble quarried from across the Sound      
    
that was your choice? No one made you.
from Brač, its flank to this day exposed and livid,
And he’s like, fuck you bitch and I’m like, Fuck. You.     
and fine bricks from Salona and black Egyptian granite                       
And I mean, what’s he like? It’s not like I asked him to get shedded 
for the columns; his nine thousand subjects and soldiers,
with a bunch of dicks? Evan, yeah? The one with the permed fringe? 
thronging in the decumanusthat divides the imperial apartments                    
Well he’s like. The. Worst? My mate Brady says he’s like always

from the places of worship and the cold, smooth burial vault
getting people to do stuff when they’re under the influence?
where, tired of politics and slaughter, tired
Like he got this guy to like glue his donga to a lamp post?      
of trying to stamp out a religion that creeps, like a woman,
I’m not even lying and he was like, in hospital? To get his knob
into Roman hearts he longs to lie and listen for all eternity
like, surgically removed. Do you know what I’m saying?
to the gentle lapping of his native Adriatic against the walls.


(from Fold)

Fold

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