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Obligations of Voice

If we are to speak, what is it we must speak? If we are allowed to speak, what is it we must say? Who constitutes the ‘we’ that speaks? Anne Elvey’s new collection frames such questions against the contemporary world and its multiple challenges. These poems in turn explore environmental encounters, subtle and overt expressions of the political, the elisions of history, the embodiment of the world and the nature of grace, through poetry sharply attuned to its subject matter. For Elvey, poetry has an obligation not only to chart intimate moments, but also to draw those moments towards the numinous matter of our Earthy habitats.

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98 June 2021 9780645008937 , ,
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If we are to speak, what is it we must speak? If we are allowed to speak, what is it we must say? Who constitutes the ‘we’ that speaks? Anne Elvey’s new collection frames such questions against the contemporary world and its multiple challenges. These poems in turn explore environmental encounters, subtle and overt expressions of the political, the elisions of history, the embodiment of the world and the nature of grace, through poetry sharply attuned to its subject matter. For Elvey, poetry has an obligation not only to chart intimate moments, but also to draw those moments towards the numinous matter of our Earthy habitats.

‘Anne Elvey has mastered the certainties of poetry; she can now un-do them. This book is not interested in seeking poetic reductions: it grabs at goodness and pain, regret and reflection that cannot be held down. Obligations admit responsibility to others – to Country as a guest, to children, animals and faith. The obligations of Elvey’s voice include speaking out as well as listening. That is why wind is a persistent element throughout these poems: above human cruelty or grace, it meets the poet’s voice with its own.’

Bonny Cassidy

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