Richard Skinner
Dream into Play
15 August 2022. 37 pp. ISBN 978-3-901993-82-4 (= PSPS 38)
£7.50 (+ 2.00 p&p), €7.50 (+ 2.00 p&p), US$ 11.00 (+ 3.50 p&p)

"The mysteries in Richard Skinner's work – images or accounts sometimes just touched on, just touched-in – are compelling; they shape the poems' scope and substance. As a group, these poems pester and perturb, they will get under your skin, might leave a bruise, will press you to re-read, rediscover, re-imagine. In that way, Skinner's contract with his reader is both genuine and generous."
David Harsent

"Dream into Play is another wonderful offering from Skinner's brilliantly elegant and dexterous lexicon. Drenched with colour, shade and often emerging from behind subtle screens, these are poems of deep intelligence, of gentle salve, of measured playfulness. They are poems that make us think differently about the texture and calibration of language, the slow veiling and unveiling of imagery, of personal revelation. A meticulous craftsman, Skinner teaches us that the poet, like Atropos, must 'Hold his tongue, and when the time comes, measure twice, cut once'."
Clodagh Beresford Dunne

"Dreams and play are central to the possibilities of how language can transform grief into an aesthetic object to be handled and contemplated in the wake of bereavement. Skinner's astonishing craft is something readers of his work have come to expect, but the sheer inventiveness and level of risk-taking in Dream into Play is startling. References to other art mediums and classical and popular culture are all part of the poet's palette. The rich intertextuality that he melds into transformational poetry is a way of bearing the unbearable – giving it appreciable value. Skinner makes sense of grief through wordplay, paradox, and inventiveness. Like a cubist artist, he collages fragments from deep personal experience, dreams, art, and culture. In an ironically exhilarating exploration of loss, these poems give back what has been taken through exceptional creative force."
Lisa Kelly

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Table of Contents

Excerpts from Dream into Play

The Green Capitals

Low pressure blasts down from Cape Wrath
and hits you full in the face,
clearing the lines, the stale air,
from the catacombs of your heart
and you recall that last time your mother stopped
you dead in your tracks with her truth,
which reminds you in turn how her cells swarmed
to fix the tear in your broken heart.

Even in an anechoic chamber, the heart
insists on its tick and pulse,
its molecules and the blood’s virus
carrying the line through you, like her words
echoing in the room
that everyone carries inside them.

The Gift

If I turn, a door clicks and falls open
and out will pour bats, owls, Furies.
I don't turn but sacrifice my face forwards.
What will power me are mills, pumps,
enemies. Words will run in sluices,
blocked by locks. At a dock,
on the other side of the world, poems
wrapped in paper boxes
are unloaded as freight, secretly
at night.

Reviews of Dream into Play

"Skinner's poetry investigates the importance of language, which seems to be the last anchor that allows humanity to make sense of life and death. His critical approach is therefore not hollow but reveals the transformation of personal memories into literary products. The powerfulness that the poet experiences as a human being becomes the creative centre of his exploration which refuses solutions and accepts contradictions and estrangement but is also open to a vital flowing of energy that gives space to silence, shadows and possible redeemed scenarios."
Carla Scarano. "London Grip Poetry Review – Richard Skinner". London Grip (September 29, 2022).
Click here to read the full review.

"This is a densely-packed pamphlet to reread and savour. Skinner's lyrical poems brim with his trademark intertextuality and wit. [... His] poems seem infused with Eastern philosophy and consider the transient nature of reality / dream / illusion [...]. Though sometimes dealing with abstract ideas, the poems are rooted in materiality of the poet's emotional and personal experiences. [...] Skinner counters his philosophies with witty wordplay [and] explores the nature of what makes up our individual worlds. [...] This pamphlet is likely to become a personal favourite."

Mary Mulholland, The Alchemy Spoon 7, Winter 2022.
Click here to access the magazine's website.

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