Second full UK collection The Last Parent, Second Light Publications, 2019.
Back cover text:
This book includes a wide selection of Anne Stewart’s poems new since The Janus Hour (Oversteps 2010) together with a highly original sequence of some 30 poems under the eponymous title The Last Parent, which focusses on the bereaved daughter’s role as Executor, juxtaposing the responses of both, where the struggle is, on the one hand, with grieving and memories and, on the other, with practical tasks and demanding paperwork. Combining such disparate subject-matters explores, in an informative, helpful, documentary style, territory where contemporary poetry rarely treads.
Comments on long poem sequence:
“I love the way, in The Lost Dead, Anne does not flinch from the macabre humour that can creep into dreadful situations, to help us through. This whole poem is special, I was stunned by it, and it’s immediately followed by The Inevitable Truth of Love, where the poem sings itself into some other space entirely … look out specially for “my grief a sack of fists still blindly hammering…” and the choices to be made in Organise The Funeral And Wake … this collection has moved me greatly.”
“In this remarkable collection of two voices, Anne Stewart’s passionate poems chronicle the mechanics of handling the Administration after her father’s death. Intertwined, she skilfully weaves poems of loss – her artistically crafted elegies, paying homage to her parents.”
See Comments from Readers
Review at Agenda Online, Elizabeth Ridout, also reviewing collections by Naomi Jaffa and Kay Syrad
Review at London Grip, Merryn Williams
Review at Washington Independent Review of Books, one of several featured by Grace Cavalieri in the July 19 edition of her monthly Exemplars series
Review at Write Out Loud, by Carla Scarano D’Antonio
Extracts from review by Dr R V Bailey in Envoi, issue 183, October 2019:
“… her chosen territory is often disconcertingly liminal … even eerie. Combining this with a well-controlled wit makes her poems both inviting and memorable. … The immediately striking thing about her work is the way in which though every poem works differently, in all of them she manages to combine penetration of thought with a refreshingly minimalist use of language. … Stewart is a poet on the side of life, and her poems have tremendous energy, are for life ”
and, in respect of The Last Parent sequence:
“ she analyses with painful accuracy the geography of a landscape that is almost impossible to describe, with tenderness and deep feeling. Irony and comedy are there too, along with despair and grief. This second part of Stewart’s collection should be on hand at the hospice, and at the funeral, for there is genuine healing in it.”
From review by Patrick B. Osada in South, issue 61, Spring 2020:
“Anne’s poetry has much to say about contemporary life, her observations often made through the prism of dry humour … [and on The Last Parent sequence] Throughout this remarkable poetry sequence Anne juxtaposes the intensity of her grief with the need to remain calm and practical: ‘… my grief a sack of fists still blindly hammering’ (The Inevitable Truth of Love) … ‘This is a tough one. Will he be intact? / Did he have an organ donor card? / Will there be a laying out?’ (Organise the Funeral and Wake)”
From review by Rachel Playforth in The Frogmore Papers, issue 94, Autumn 2019:
“The ‘Administrator’ voice dispassionately, and often comically, unpicks the responsibilities and frustrations of estate administration. Intercut with these … is the bereaved daughter’s more plaintive voice … It’s a brilliant and honest approach. ”
From review by Katheryn Southworth in Sofia, issue 135, March 2020:
[on long poem sequence] “Yet the two voices are not so far apart. The Administrator is not an unfeeling bureaucrat but a person holding onto her humanity as she responds to the exigencies and absurdities involved in a death … The poet recognises the element of surrealism and absurdity in death” [and on stand-alone poems] “It is tempting to privilege the originality of ‘The Last Parent’ sequence in talking of this book, but the rest of the poems … display similar wit and surrealism, with striking metaphors … Stewart’s work is thoughtful and lyrical, but above all tender, humane and hopeful, indeed remorselessly positive … In ‘Late Summer’ Stewart empathises with small objects like popping seeds and frail creatures like butterflies. Her wish for them might be a prayer for a world which her own work so well exemplifies, one which offers the conditions for humanity to thrive: ‘Plucky things. Let them land safe. Let them find / a welcome in ground that suits. Let there be rain / of the right sort. Soft. Warm. Encouraging.’
Register The Death
When I come back
Order Form or from the poetry p f online shop. See Second Light Books for Book Club offer (6 copies for £40 plus feedback).
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A bilingual collection published by Integral (Bucharest), January 2017.
The collection comprises 20 pages of poems and a cultural profile, all in English, and in Romanian translation (48pp in all). The translations are by Popescu Prize winner Prof Dr Lidia Vianu of the Universtity of Bucharest.
The poems are a mix of poems previously published in magazines, anthologies or online, and poems otherwise unpublished.
Penelope Shuttle described Anne Stewart’s first collection as “fearless, muscular, flexible, staunch”, quoting the Finnish Proverb ‘Better a bitter truth than a sweet lie’. In Dilys Wood’s review of her second collection, she refers to Stewart as an exceptional poet who has “forged a recognisable voice … instantly ‘there’ in tone, style, content and experimentation with approach and form.” In this new collection, she applies the same unflinching approach, but with a decidedly political bent, extending her range of enquiry beyond the personal to the ‘world-web’ (I don’t want to write ‘war’).
“The title is taken from a poem, For a Change, inspired by my niece, Joanne Stocks, honoured with a visit to Buckingham Palace in thanks for her work with, and fundraising work for, the St John Ambulance service, and who, in preparation for paramedic training, works with the Yorkshire Ambulance Service.”
For a Change
I don’t want to write ‘war’.
Buy a copy from the poetry p f online shop.
An illustrated version, also translated by Prof Dr Lidia Vianu, is published online by Contemporary Literature Press. Available as a free download here.
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A bilingual collection published by Bibliotheca Universalis (Bucharest), published in April 2015 in English with Romanian translation, and in 2016, English with Spanish translation.
The collection comprises 25 poems, a cultural profile, an abstract from Penelope Shuttle’s review of Anne’s work, in particular of The Janus Hour (review originally published in ARTEMISpoetry), and critical comment on Anne’s work from various sources, all in English and in Romanian translation. The book was produced by Daniel Dragomirescu (editor, Orizont Literar Contemporan / Contemporary Literary Horizon) and the translations are by Madalina Banucu, Alexandra-Diana Mircea and Izabela-Elvira Vate.
The title is taken from the poem Snow snow more cold lonely snow, winner of the Silver Wyvern Award (Poetry on the Lake, Italy, 2014).
Five of the poems included are taken from The Janus Hour. The others are from various publications (mainly magazines and anthologies) over the years or previously unpublished work.
A bed is a lightbulb in the night sky
Perception as a Furry Thing
Though not primarily intended for UK distribution, copies are available from the poetry p f online shop: Eng/Rom and Eng/Sp.
First collection The Janus Hour, Oversteps Books, 2010.
“Anne Stewart’s poetry is characterised by a view of the world that is quizzical, appraising, unflinching yet non-judgemental: this is how things look from here, it says; take it or leave it. Her poems address, with the same deft lightness of touch, both uncomfortable truths about our time and the surreal in the everyday, achieving a rare consistency of expression without ever being predictable.”
Jeremy Page, editor, The Frogmore Papers.
“The Janus Hour is strong, resourceful and varied, dominated by its music and a sense of quest for survival, for the light behind the clouds. Mercurial, like a Fellini film.”
“Anne Stewart is a highly skilled poet whose poetry can be highly disturbing. Her sonnets, terza rima and other poems are beautifully wrought, yet her subject matter is very near the bone. Mothers, sisters, deaths in the family and a ‘list of cruelties’ are prominent in this book, which is essential reading for all interested in women’s poetry.”
Merryn Williams, editor, The Interpreter’s House.
“… For Anne Stewart writes like the lovechild of Dorothy Parker and Louis MacNeice. She possesses a wry and humane wit modulated by illuminating and synaesthestic insights that draw the reader in. If hers is a harsh enchantment, it is nonetheless true enchantment.”
Penelope Shuttle, review in ARTEMISpoetry Issue 5.
Still Water, Orange, Apple, Tea
Take my Hand
There is no bread in the house
copies from the Oversteps Books website or from me the poetry p f online shop.