“Much that’s best about the collection depends on its tonal variety: Slaney shifts from light to dark, from grave to comic, and is attentive to the voices of different speakers…. This is seriously good poetry.”
John Lucas, London Grip
“In this beguiling sequence, family is marked in all its complexity. Di Slaney transports us to her own family history, as witnessed by memory, anecdote and photograph. These are questioning poems, interrogating the past: who came before, what were they like, who did they love, what is true? The writing is always precise and lyrical, and its formal qualities remarkable. A wonderful debut.”
“The pictures in this book are unfixed. Even though the shutter has clicked and folded its arms, the work of recounting a family’s history is still ongoing in Di Slaney’s sequence. These tender and questioning poems work at filling in the before and after of the decisive moment that Cartier-Bresson spoke of – that ‘dry silence after the shutter closes’, when a smile falls from a face, or a girl, turned woman, walks back into the fields she was born from.”
“…[this poem] delighted me with the effortless flow of language and syntax counterpointed beautifully against the lineation; the subtlety of the theme, the hidden narrative and the combination, in the voice, of humility and vision, solitariness and desire.”
Mimi Khalvati, Judge’s Report Brittle Star Poetry Competition 2014
‘I got just what I wished/for – the chance to fly, to really show/what I can do.’
“Those of us who admire Di Slaney’s sophisticated and dexterous poems will be deeply grateful for this first full collection. The collection includes a highly original sequence about chickens and egg-laying, and the book swings to the rhythms of farm life, taking in a wide range of tones, from the humour of ‘How to knit a sheep’ to the transcendent lyricism of the collection’s title poem. Later on, the book’s subject matter broadens out, and the poet is particularly brilliant in her use of history; ‘The man who taught Milton’ is among the most exemplary sestinas I have read. If the author’s subject matter recalls the work of Hughes or Hilary Menos, her extraordinary formal range, and particularly her playfulness with the sonnet, might remind us of writers like Muldoon.
In this book, Di Slaney really does show what she can do: produce original, beautifully-crafted and very moving poems.”
On Dad’s Slideshow...
On ‘West of Dolgellau’...
On Reward for Winter...
On Nottinghamshire Sheet XXIX N.W....
“Reaching out to the four corners of a very particular village in Nottinghamshire, Di Slaney’s winning poem is both celebratory and elegiac. Structured on an anophoric motif – the ‘No’ or ‘Not’ of Nottinghamshire – the poem evokes, in a maze of detail, local landmarks that have now vanished, their lost communities and working lives. Rhythmical, beautifully anchored in vowel sounds, ending in a rush of rhymes, this is a love poem to a well-loved land, in the best tradition of the English nature lyric.”
Mimi Khalvati, Judge’s Report, Four Corners Poetry Competition 2015