Deep in limestone country, at the corner of Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, lies the village of Coleshill.
This haunting new collection from Fiona Sampson is a portrait of place, both real and imaginary; a dreamscape with its roots deep in the local soil.
The poems hum with an evocative music of their own: there are hymns of the orchards, verses for walkers, songs for bees. These are slices of life and states of mind; poems of grief, fears and maledictions, but also of renewal, resurrections and the promise of spring.
Coleshill emerges as a “parish of sun / and shade”; its darkness and light perfectly balanced. From the T.S. Eliot and Forward Prize shortlisted poet comes a deep, interrogative collection of astonishing clarity and power.
Coleshill finds Fiona Sampson enduring a term of trial, its rural setting made menacing by present threat, old terrors and the larger unravelling of the environment
In this sumptuous collection, haunted by fear and a surefooted, hard-won joy, Fiona Sampson celebrates that elusive and most endangered thing: a meaningful sense of place. Reading Coleshill, we are reminded of an essential community with the land, and with all our good neighbours, animals and humans
These poems of place, often troublingly dark, are sui generis in the way they use what's to hand to explore what's hidden. Fiona Sampson's technical subtlety is everywhere in evidence and her emotional range is startling. Coleshill is a book of rare power and depth.
This is Sampson's poetic masterpiece, and a landmark book. She creates intimacy of place through a chamber music of the natural and made worlds, honed observations and epiphanic ‘instrusions’. With its layering of history and presence, Coleshill is a major contribution to the literature of the local.
A richly rewarding and thematically coherent work, written with an avid attention to light effects, atmosphere, and the natural world.