January 2017. 38 pp. ISBN-13 978-3-901993-58-9 (= PSPS 17)
£5.00 (+ 1.00 p&p), €6.00 (+ 1.00 p&p), US$ 8.50 (+ 1.50 p&p)
"Sarah Stutt combines the precise perceptions of the naturalist with the flights of the myth-maker and symbolist. In “Regret” the protagonist swallows a star, which finds its way to her heart where it stays, “emitting a punishing heat” although it brings her the power of levitation. This might be a parable for one kind of poetic transformation. But Stutt is an observer, too, evoking her locations with brisk, atmospheric immediacy: “[the] fog of mildew and furniture polish” and “the old brown signage” of the traditional English library in “Twenty-Five Years”, for example, or the imagined dreams of migrant warblers in Sub-Saharan Africa, revisiting “crowded hedgerows, the smell of rain, / low skies, the saltmarsh mudflats of Spurn.” (“The Four Seasons”) The work is always formally elegant, while allowing itself developmental space. Generic themes, such as love, birth, travel and exile, are renewed by expressionistic daring, a sharp, bodily tangibility and a vision of history as alive as the vision of place. Sarah Stutt is a truly European writer. The poems of Winter Born are both deeply located and adventurously displaced."
"Sarah Stutt’s poems are imbued with a watchful, nocturnal quality. Rendering her North of England and continental landscapes in writing of crystalline accuracy, Stutt issues finely-detailed reports from “the very edge of things”. Winter Born is an achieved and luminous debut, suggesting much important work to come."
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Table of Contents
Excerpts from Winter Born
It began yesterday, when the cherry tree turned
from green to yellow to russet in a single day,
when four long swans flew low over the garden,
necks stretched towards elsewhere.
I witnessed the quick spill of night ink,
felt the black gloves of winter tighten
around autumn’s throat, saw the sky thicken,
heard the wind warn of worse to come.
Cumbersome with its reluctant prize catch,
this bruised uterus trawls through endless nights.
The sea-cold sheets of the cot are re-folded,
impatient phones switched off, curtains drawn.
Candles run out of wax and smoke their last.
Expectant clouds sink deeper. Membranes break.
I drink from a foreign oasis,
drift on the Isar’s white waters,
rise through crystalline trees,
slide down kingdoms of ice.
As soon as I land, the sky sinks,
sea mist plasters my skin,
grey on grey, north-east wind,
an honest horizon of nothing.
I run my hands over familiar stone
like a blind man,
smell your hair, taste your neck,
marvel at the shape of your bones.
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