Frances-Anne King
Weight of Water

October 2013. 36 pp. ISBN-13 978-3-901993-44-2 (= PSPS 10)
£4.50 (+ 1.00 p&p), €5.50 (+ 1.00 p&p), US$ 8.00 (+ 1.50 p&p)
 
"Frances-Anne King's Weight of Water strikes a beautiful balance between mystery and disclosure, bravery and tact, the kind of tact which nonetheless keeps her zeal in place. What underpins the whole collection is not a commonplace 'accessibility', but her dignified restraint; the line is balanced and controlled, the vision never in question. It is a memorable first book."

Tim Liardet

"Memory is central to the poems in Weight of Water, how it is made over; how it surfaces like a subterranean stream; how it is captured in things - a sapphire sky, fingers, the scent of a box hedge. 'I remember' the poet says and we are instantly taken with her - the spell of her precise and lucid images conjuring the strangeness of time or the wistfulness (but never sentimentality) of change and loss or the visceral intensity of colour leaking from the world. The poetry here is fresh and compelling; the poet understands not only what words to use, but what gaps to leave and the result is a poised and impressive pamphlet."
Jan Fortune


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Table of Contents


Excerpts from Weight of Water

Crossing Pater Noster Square

Was it the dead, telephoning
down the wire of the wind

or the ghost of bells
caught in the stillness

of the bone-lit morning light?
Like the thrum of bees' wings

hums and primes pulsed the air
whitening the light between wind-beats.


Besieged
After Edward Hopper's Room in Brooklyn (1932)

Chimneys can spend a life-time plotting your destruction.
Like a besieging army they mass slowly then stand
phalanx after phalanx crowding out the skyline.

You might try strategies to deflect them: strip rooms
to the minimum, remove pictures, books, jewel-coloured rugs
and cushions, install stark oblong windows

with parchment roller blinds, perhaps a skull-white vase
containing hothouse roses, the kind that never drop their petals
and are scentless - so can't transport you to a wilderness

of soft abandon - but arrow-straight turn to the windows,
towards a light where shadows never waver, but lie
symmetrical and still like textbook diagrams.

Some people try to outstare chimneys, sit for hours
gazing out across the rooftops. But this won't fool the clay
and terracotta legions - they have their own agenda.


Reviews of Weight of Water


"[...] the poems are well ordered and fit together due to a confident and capable poetic voice but with a variety of theme. The book production also shows that a stapled chapbook of 36 pages can be of high quality [...]. Weight of Water has the haunting atmosphere of poems drawn from memory, sometimes the memory that seems to penetrate objects."

Adele Ward, ARTEMISpoetry 12 (May 2014): 30.

"Frances-Anne King's 'voice' is captivating - you might think you hear it as softly-spoken, courteous, discreet, tactful; cultured and cultivated. Right - but you'd be wrong if that's all you hear: there's a toughness at the back of it, a tension in the muscles somewhere that puts a real and steely edge on the evocations of memory and human loss, and that nudges the 'nature' poems from mere loveliness into beautifully-managed investigations. [...] Waiting, remembering, noticing, naming - the poet's essential virtues, perhaps? Certainly ones that King cultivates through the exercise of her sensibilities as well as her thematic pre-occupations."

Lesley Saunders, Eyewear.

"There is a crystallizing of emotion and thought here which reminds one of Imagism in the precision of the lines, but with King's own stamp of originality and exactitude. [...] There is that sense of eternity one finds in Henry Vaughan's poetry, of the binding of life and shadow."

W. S. Milne, "The Dedicated Spirit: New Poetry", Agenda 48.1-2 (Spring/Summer 2014): 150-156; 151.

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