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Burnside is keen to pierce through our urge to narrate and to understand what exists beyond the familiar details of ordinary life Thus he is interested in the pretext and the subverbal; he is inspired by the always elusive property of otherness and the desire to exist beyond ingrained notions of property in the sense of ownership September 11th inspires a poem about the illusions produced by 'History' while in 'Koi' he seeks the ecological world outside of human understanding 'To the painter Fabritius' is an ode to the lost works of art and the inherently fragmentary role of human life in a wider ecologyMuch of this selected works consists of poems from 'The Asylum Dance' where he takes a human habitat 'Ports' 'Settlements' 'Roads' 'Fields' and explores how they shape his perspective and in broader terms the illusions of us as human beings It's an interesting project though not very consistent Nonetheless it marks a transition from being a good but piecemeal poet to one who embraces ambitious subject matter while still focused on the uotidian From here on he is at his best Burnside's poetry is going strong at the moment Somehow I imagine a phrase typical of Burnside's locution posterity will remember him as a minor poet if at all But perhaps that's how he desires to be read Over seventeen years and nine collections John Burnside has built in the words of Bernard O'Donoghue 'a poetic corpus of the first significance' a poetry of luminous limpid grace His territory is the no man's land of threshold and margin the charmed half light of the liminal a domestic world threaded through with mystery myth and longingIn this Selected Poems we can see themes emerge and develop within the growing confidence of Burnside's sinuous lyric poise the place of the individual in the world the idea of dwelling of home within that community and the lure of absence and escape set against the possibilities of renewal and continuityThis is consummate immaculate work born out of a lean and agile craftsmanship profound philosophical thought and a haunted haunting imagination; the result is a poetry that makes intimate resonant exuisite music Selected Poems


About the Author: John Burnside

John Burnside is the author of nine collections of poetry and five works of fiction Burnside has achieved wide critical acclaim winning the Whitbread Poetry Award in 2000 for The Asylum Dance which was also shortlisted for the Forward and T S Eliot prizes Born in Scotland he moved away in 1965 returning to settle there in 1995 In the intervening period he worked as a factory hand a labour


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