When Gillian Allnutt was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, Carol Ann Duffy wrote that her work ‘has always been in conversation with the natural world and the spiritual life’. Her latest collection, wake, shows the two beginning to meld into one: to speak for, even as, one another. As her title signals, these are poems about looking back, keeping watch over the dying and death of an old world and the ways of being human in that world; but also forward, waiting for the new world and being ready to awaken to it when it comes.
There are, as always in her work, many displaced people. No one here is fully at home in the world. These are turbulent times – individually and collectively – and the poems here reflect that. And yet the poems are more ‘among’ than ‘about’ people: speaking out of the horde, and the hoard, of humanity as a whole.
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