April 2016. 68 pp. ISBN-13 978-3-901993-55-8
"Vuyelwa Carlin possesses an astonishing eloquence and intellectuality in these wonderfully honed, totally achieved poems. In this wide-ranging, well-crafted collection, she is unflinching in her confrontation of a dark, often Biblical, timeless universe full of blood, bone, stone, yet with sanctuaries. Her original music never falters as she takes the reader around the world through memories of lost loved ones, deathbeds, deathsmiths, numbersmiths, landscapes, and seascapes. This is a very gifted poet who deserves proper attention."
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Table of Contents
Excerpts from Long Shadows
Long Shadows, and the Bright Blue Sea
For Netty, 1958-2008
Surprise photo in a friend's house -
the Parish Retreat, St. David's, that last summer: you,
smiling in late sun, pose
in a pod of kindly people; eastering shadows
stretch over greensward, and behind,
still as a pond, the sapphire sea.
Impossible not to see it as elegiac -
the long silhouettes, faces full of last light,
of consolations: do you see the saints,
their blazing crowns cast round the shining sea?
Road to Talisker
Over the purples, umbers, ribbon of road;
- no cars - a loneliness
of beating wind, shirred small pools:
not a sheep, not a bird - the rare eagles
nest high, by the sea - plummet,
scavenge the basalt beach.
Air buffets air, rampages on this ridge,
cross-yerks these whistling heathers.
- Talisker Bay, there? - no,
too far to see, that grey-white stony crescent,
wind-trap, the sea ever-roaring,
racing, pinnacling; rasped pebbles,
the gunmetal clouds. Flinty Skye,
its strewn stubborn rocks; endless grind
of sea, kick, pull, of wind: who, what,
will see the gritty eventual sands, Old Storr
blown thin, blown over? - pared creation
sinewed to fiercer cold?
Reviews of Long Shadows
"Carlin sees and feels with astonishing directness and is very often able to find words to articulate experience and observation with remarkable power. [...] Alongside (within?) the gritty integrity of her own language, Carlin deploys allusion / quotation very adroitly [...]. Quite apart from the peculiar delights of her intense language, one of the things that attracts me to Carlin's work is how well she designs a collection. [...] Carlin seems to me to merit more attention and praise than she has hitherto received. Long Shadows would be a good place to start for those who don't know her work."
"Carlin's gaze is unflinching, whether turned on her own experiences, or those of history. She quotes Vasily Grossman "Can it really be that no one will ever answer for everything that happened?" and uses this question to interrogate brutality, religious faith, dementia, mortality. There are no answers, of course, yet this is ultimately a collection uplifting in its courage, its determination to bear witness. Carlin writes marvellously atmospheric poems of landscapes and people."
"... this collection is well-presented and intriguing, almost Biblical in its themes - an Old Testament landscape where it is wise not to take too much for granted (and there will be blood and pain) relieved sufficiently perhaps by some New Testament hope lurking."
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