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In Passing
by Anna Lewis
£10 (pub. 2019)

Anna Lewis’s knowledge of archaeology and history runs through these poems and makes them glow, as she uses relics and the natural world to illuminate crucial truths about humanity. There are ghosts from the past, including an old photo of a Polish engagement party in which the poet sees her ancestors and considers their paths: “What I don’t know: / if everything was set in place, / each person at that table / bound upon a sure course, / or if the possibilities were infinite and mutable” (The Engagement Party (I)). A haunting and visceral collection.

Praise for In Passing:

“I’ve been a fan of Anna Lewis’s sophisticated poems ever since her first collection, Other Harbours, announced her brilliant way with metaphor, her refined style, her often compellingly cool tone. In Passing gives us a world of André Breton and street musicians, pubs and churches, immigrants and early medieval saints. The poet’s excavations from history are often as playful and accessible as they are powerful; their ultimate focus is on connecting us with the human and emotional experiences of our predecessors. Her wonderful endings are often less endings than they are the beginnings of the poems’ long and haunting afterlives. At the heart of the collection is ‘The Box Pilgrimage,’ a multi-voiced dramatic narrative set at the time of the Black Death, which, in its ambitious commitment to see what poetry can do, might remind us of the work of Glyn Maxwell. Lyrical, erudite and wide-ranging, In Passing marks Anna Lewis’s transition from one of our most promising young writers to one of our most accomplished and singing voices.”

Jonathan Edwards

“This eminently readable collection from the very fine Welsh poet, Anna Lewis, shows her developing in new directions, expanding her canvas to include a more general past and present in a historically sensitive way. Poems here vary from the descriptive to brave tacklings of the long narrative, even dramatic poem. Her learning is always evident, as is her finely-tuned ear.”

Patricia McCarthy



Durnovaria (Dorchester), AD 410

After they’d gone
there was quiet of a sort.
Perhaps the birds sang louder.
Perhaps the rain was stronger on the roof.
The colours that they left behind
seemed paler in the sun; and the houses
they had built, which stood above our own
the way a stag stands, antlers holding up the sky,
seemed small and lonely.
Ants walked on their floors
as anyone might walk.
We didn’t glorify; we weren’t sorry.
We lay on our old straw beds
and let the stars talk.


(from In Passing)

In Passing

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