Alyson Hallett
Suddenly Everything

October 2013. 72 pp. ISBN-13 978-3-901993-43-5
£9.50 (+ 2.00 p&p), €12.00 (+ 2.50 p&p), US$ 16.00 (+ 3.00 p&p)
 
"Suddenly Everything is a book full of marvels in which Alyson Hallett sees the world - whether it's a 'hare in the moon' in Mexico, the detritus of Istanbul, or the cliffs, footpaths, beaches, and wildlife of her native England - as if for the first time. Her freshness of vision and freedom of spirit are in the great Romantic tradition, yet she has shaped her own unique sensibility and crafted enduring verse from her questing soul, perceptive eye, and wonderful ear for music."

James Harpur

"Suddenly Everything, Alyson Hallett's new collection, is rich in observed intensities, the poems radiating out from the molten core of this poet's imagination and sensibility. Place, and the inwardness of place, human relationship, memory, and travel are the compelling themes here. The poet's energy is productively engaged with the experiencing and voicing of the world in all its richness, while challenge and disruption are darker elements which this poet also explores and masters. Her work reveals a searching, scrupulous intelligence and an exciting willingness to engage language and experience at the deepest level, while retaining measure and control in form and content."
Penelope Shuttle


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Table of Contents


Excerpts from Suddenly Everything

You

I knew from the moment I saw you.
Told no-one, told only myself
and then silently. Buried your face
in the beaten tundra of my heart.
All seeds start in darkness,
need secrecy to discover what they're carrying,
what they contain. Love spoke
a language I couldn't spell because it spelled
me: I was love's lips and tongue and servant.
The seed conspires with unseen things
and even if we watched through the sides
of a transparent pot
we still wouldn't grasp the magic
of those first roots or shoots. Equally,
I never understood how you came
out of the wastelands and into my home.
If I think of the seed, then I'd say
our meeting was conceived long ago.
It was etched into a parabola of snow.
It was sand in a camel's hoof.
It was in the scent of a badger
when my great-grandmother
walked home one moon-lit evening.
The seed of our meeting had been evolving
for centuries: when you knocked on the door
I opened my soul and said come in.


Clarks Shoe Factory, Street

What I wanted was the factory
before it turned into a shopping village.
Wanted the Henry Moore sculpture
back on the grass by the factory tower,
wanted the hum of sewing machines
and that dusty smell of leather. Wanted
to cycle past the stinking tannery,
to walk in wear-test shoes, to eat the cakes
at Clarks christmas party. Not nostalgia,
but a wanting for things that made us.
The workers' dirty hands, the day
after day, the doughnuts in the canteen.
My father going up and down Street
High Street for more than forty years.
The fact that things were being made,
the attraction of that. The grit and the skill
and the boredom. I wanted to see it all again.
To know the cut of cow hide, the stitch,
the moulded sole of a shoe. Not the museum
but the living practice. The meaning
of that brick high up in the factory wall
with the words more light carved into it.


Reviews of Suddenly Everything


"The poems in Alyson Hallett's second collection, with their evocations of travel, memory and landscape, are contained by the musicality of her versification. [...] Hallett is very much herself in her fresh eye for the visual."

Lynn Foote, ARTEMISpoetry 12 (May 2014): 27-28.


"Her poetry praises [...] the elemental splendours of the moon, mist, sea [...] in almost Pongean elaborateness, digging beneath life's superficies, glimpsing the essence beneath the surface of things, helping us to see such phenomena anew."

W. S. Milne, "The Dedicated Spirit: New Poetry", Agenda 48.1-2 (Spring/Summer 2014): 150-156; 150.


"Hallett's strengths are in seeing ourselves and others more clearly in an ever-wondrous landscape at the same time as we become it, like the 'mist thing, fine-fogged beast' creeping up the valley."

Nigel Jarrett, Acumen 80 (September 2014): 112.


"Suddenly Everything is recommended for its relish in the physical, for the eerie richness with which poems like 'Came Creeping' and 'Liberty Bone' generate and enact a conversation with the fundamental otherness of the non-human world."

Billy Ramsell, "The Contingent", Poetry Ireland Review 115 (April 2015): 16-19; 17.


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