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Sojourner by Gillian Allnutt

Sojourner (2004)

by Gillian Allnutt

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For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding.
I Chronicles 29.15
For Katie, my mother
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In a world of glib and vacuous communication, integrity - that which insists on being itself - must retreat: if not into silence, then at least into a kind of inarticulacy. Some of the poems in Gillian Allnutt's sixth collection reveal a deliberate hesitation. There's a rhythm that stutters, stops, starts again. And sometimes there's a distrust of the whole sentence - because it has left out what cannot be expressed in a whole sentence because it is broken, fragmentary, as yet only half-retrieved. These are poems that ask for patience from the reader. They ask you not only to listen but to wait, as you would wait for the words of an abused child, a battered woman, a victim or a veteran of war. At the same time, they are poems that know: you can only refuse to forget if you've learned how to laugh, to let go. And they invite you, sometimes, to smile. 'What is most attractive about her work is that she is never solemn about the spiritual life which fascinates her' - Helen Dunmore, Observer 'Hers are original poems, scrupulous, unflashy, meditative, pushing at the ineffable, peculiarly inside language, warning their hard-won spiritual insights and flaring with sudden illuminations that are sustaining for all of us' - Michael Laskey, Aldeburgh Poetry Festival 'She's an original, though, ascetic and startling' - Sean O'Brien, Sunday Times
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