I am currently on the other side of the world from London, flying from Sydney to Hong Kong.
Yet London has been my residence and preoccupation for the past several years, culminating in my forthcoming debut full-length collection of poetry, The Knowledge.
Many of the poems are set in a specific place in London. So, as supplement to a more traditional table of contents, what follows is an interactive Google map of poem titles, including links to online version of the poems where applicable.
It is a pleasure to see these poems beside some of the strongest work over the last two years from each member of this unique North London poetry collective. In fact, I think it may be their best volume yet.
Hats off to those involved in its painstaking production. You can get your copy at the Highgate Poets website.
“…what is poetry for, if not to represent the breaking of hearts?”
-Fiona Moore, author of The Only Reason for Time
The Silence Teacher has the honour of appearing in what is, sadly, the final issue of Sphinx that will carry poetry pamphlet reviews. This online guardian of the the poetry pamphlet has presided with dignity over its cause for some time, and although its other activities will continue, the reviews will be missed.
In this double-barrelled review, Gill Andrews is drawn to the narrative poems, and finds them interesting, affecting, and precise. Marcia Menter considers the seven years of the pamphlet’s making “time enough to shape the raw emotion into a space as quietly resonant as a stone chapel.” She wishes for a bit more joy overall, but concedes that the work is entitled to its intensity. Both reviewers draw out unique and interesting observations, such as the use of fish to convey a sense of being underwater. You can read the full reviews in Sphinx 42 online.
Fiona Moore is no stranger to grief. Her pamphlet The Only Reason for Time, which rightly found its way to the Guardian Best Books of 2013, is a tender and subtle portrayal of the aftermath of losing a spouse. As a fan of her work, I value her thoughts particularly.
She notes how the vestiges of formal verse haunt even the free verse poems in The Silence Teacher, how there is playfulness in the midst of silence’s weight, and spots layers of metaphor in the animal poems. Just to know that these poems were so carefully read by a fellow traveller on this road is a comfort somehow. You can read the full extent of her thoughtful perspective here.
“…fresh sweat and sweet / Mortality, he found them on the North”
-Thom Gunn, “At the Back of the North Wind”
Paul Stephenson reviewed The Silence Teacher, along with three other pamphlets from Poetry Salzburg, in the current issue of The North. He begins, “If all poetry is essentially about love and loss then there is little need to read beyond Robert Peake’s beautiful and heart-breaking pamphlet, The Silence Teacher”.
He quotes from the book in summary of its themes, and picks up on the “interplay between love and hate” sometimes manifesting in “quiet violence” at various points in the collection. Indeed, sometimes sadness and anger, love and hate, have much in common. He concludes, “These highly-crafted, long-considered poems have so much emotional resonance, from a father who will not teach his son hello, whose son ‘came in waving goodbye'”.
Rattle is one of my favourite US literary journals, and Michelle Bitting is one of my favourite US poets, so to have her treat my newest short collection, The Silence Teacher, in their online reviews series is particularly meaningful for me.
As Michelle says, we were together in the first workshop of the first residency of my first semester in the Pacific University MFA in Writing programme. Reflecting on that time, which still plays in my mind like a black-and-white film, I realise how far I have come in my travels with grief, and how essential writing has been throughout.
Michelle makes astute observations about the arc of the work throughout her review, calling it, “a heroic account of a father’s journey dealing with death.”
He notes its “consistently even, deeply muted tones” that betray “very little of either self-pity or self-absorption” and declares it an “uneasy, affecting and unforgettable collection”.
Magma has become one of my favourite UK literary journals, in part for its tremendous variety; its poetry editors rotate with every issue. I am delighted by the mention, and pleased to be reviewed alongside the up-and-comer Rachel Piercey and well-known poet Martin Figura.