This stunning collection engages directly with history, the living continuum that connects us with our near and distant past, all while nourishing and illuminating our present. Here are traces left of presence: Indian scratchings on rock, the nail-marks of destroyed frescoes, spoken fragments of war memories: petroglyphs that function as both memorials and re-awakenings, all traceable with the finger of the imagination. Here, too, are images of the stilled, the stopped life: a snowed-up village, the paralyzed victim of motor-neurone disease, a soft drink fermented in an old village café. From this rueful equilibrium of midlife, Thorpe circles his own personal history, allowing regret and anticipation their Janus-like say. These are erudite, generous poems, formally versatile yet rich in startlingly original observation and a natural lyric grace. Performing his unique archaeology on lives lived, Adam Thorpe once again displays the range of his imagination and the depth of his humanity.
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