Corridors of Babel
Introduction by David Caddy
October 2007. 99 pp. ISBN-13 978-3-901993-26-8
"Sheila Hamilton's poems are sometimes tender, sometimes angry, but always surprising. Like dreams, they offer the reader glimpses into that churning, protean world that lies beneath what we like to call 'reality'".
"[Corridors of Babel] is open to the universe, celebrating psychic, human and natural diversity and the possibility of a wider universe. [...] Hamilton is a "technician of the sacred" to use Jerome Rothenberg's apt term."
David Caddy, "Introduction"
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Excerpts from Corridors of Babel
Corridors of Babel
Each room was a country
where, once inside,
I knew the language,
however nasal or polysyllabic.
One room was Finland.
Six thousand lakes
and no sense of humour.
Another was Serbia,
full of sunlight,
I settled for the Finns.
"Sheila Hamilton's first full-length collection sees her ranging over a number of inter-linked themes around the predicament
of being, becoming, or wanting to be, something else. She explores how what can't be, or isn't, lives in consciousness and is
brought into language, and how different ways of being have their own. [...]
As I get to know this book and find the surprises and depths of knowing hiding in the simple lines, I find myself coming back to those that read like magical fables. Some of these, probably the most difficult to write and most successful, are written in an attempt to understand and come to terms with the arrival of an autistic child. A line from "My Son on Horseback" like, "For years, you had been coming," or "I couldn't see you / but I heard the hooves" appears lightweight, straight forward, but holds so much up for question in the uncluttered air around it. This is a very gentle form of provocation and, being so defenceless, enables the reader to entertain possibilities, unguarded. It is a convention familiar among some of the older visionary poets with eastern influence such as Rumi and Basho and more recently Neruda. Certainly not overused in contemporary British poetry, it is a strong feature of feminist prose. [...]
I am already looking forward to Hamilton's next book."
"I came to this collection expecting a great deal, aware of the sterling work that appears in Poetry Salzburg Review
an excellent journal published out of Salzburg University. Hamilton's lovely produced book conforms to the house style of the
press. It is a substantial book. [...], this is a collection that grows on the reader. Second and third readings offered
vastly differing experiences.
[...] Hamilton is a talented poet with a gift for fantastic opening lines.
Overall, this is a strong collection [...] If I came across one of Hamilton's poems in a magazine, I don't doubt it would stand out. I will return to this collection as it seems to be one of those collections that reads differently each time."
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