Jamie McKendrick's sixth collection starts from the far flung ('out
there' is the nothing - or the something - of outer space),
ascertaining the mood of an observer on Uranus, or the perils of
medieval travel, or listening for the speech of alien landscapes. Closer
to home, the poems adopt an outsiderish stance as they ponder the
business of non-belonging and draw up wry inventories of marginality -
finding room for those whom history has forgotten (the inhabitants of a
drowned valley in Wales) or equally for the outcasts of natural history
(the northern bald ibis, the hyena, the moa), whose skeletons are 'cairns
to their own extinction'.
But the poems themselves are stubborn survivors and vividly realised individuals: they take short views, make canny
distinctions and tread carefully. Invoking paintings and artefacts and
facades, they also add to an ongoing portrait of the artist - caught for
example amidst the patiently-observed flotsam of a repeatedly flooding
house -which becomes more finely drawn with each of Jamie McKendrick's
Jamie McKendrick was born in Liverpool in 1955. He is the author of six collections of poetry, including The Marble Fly (1997), winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection and a Poetry Book Society Choice; Ink Stone (2003), shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize and the Whitbread Poetry Award; and Crocodiles & Obelisks (2007), shortlisted for the Forward Prize. Out There (2012) won the Hawthornden Prize. An earlier selection of his poems was published as Sky Nails (2000), and he is editor of 20th-Century Italian Poems (2004). The Embrace (2009), his translations of Valerio Magrelli's poetry, won the Oxford-Weidenfeld and the John Florio prizes.