A Perfect Mirror

BookA Perfect Mirror

A Perfect Mirror

Pavilion Poetry

2018

March 14th, 2018

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Walking, getting lost, and finding that home is half way between refuge and a place to look out from at the unsettling and unsettled world, are the dominant themes in Sarah Corbett’s fifth collection. Written from an intimate knowledge of the countryside of the Calder Valley, many of these poems respond to a landscape as beautiful as it is disquieting, troubled by a warming climate and by violence and loss both public and private. A central sequence – part found poem, part assemblage – draws on the Grasmere Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth, poems that question the nature of the visionary, the in-between worlds that this poet claims as her territory; here nature is held up as a mirror where we might see ourselves and our actions reflected. Over all haunts the presence-in-absence of Sylvia Plath, whose burial place the author can see from her bedroom window. Throughout, interior lights – a train on a dark morning, a sudden snowfall, moonlight and starlight, sun on lake water, the love between a parent and child – attempt to balance the darkness.

Reviews

'Mature, intense, necessary – in turbulent times, the poems of A Perfect Mirror haunt and hold the reader, showcasing the gifts of a poet as accomplished in evoking the natural world as she is in communicating a powerful psychic landscape. Deploying imagery at once idiosyncratic, apposite and utterly memorable, with an remarkable feel for the line, and terrific sonic effects, Corbett never fails to move and excite, prompting me to return again and again to wonder, with not a little envy: how does she do it? Here is a talent who illumines darkness with a fierce emotional and intellectual rigour. There can be no doubt: Sarah Corbett is one of the finest, most essential poets now writing.'
Kathryn Gray

'A Perfect Mirror flickers more secrets about the Calder Valley into view than a mirror ever could. Marvelling at moss and the moon of ice, elsewhere plying the mystery of puddles, these miraculous poems nurse the glint of sun into gold. Even the sky begins to speak, graced by the ghosts of Wordsworth, Plath, Bronte and Austen, as scaling each hill entails a hike into the imagination, “where the mind goes gliding beyond the shores of its ocean... moving towards a horizon we will never touch”.'
Jade Cuttle, Poetry Book Society

'Often, cautious students of poetry worry that their poems oughtn’t be about one ‘controversial’ thing or another. What Corbett has shown is that they should take the opposite approach: fill their poems with all the savages and saints which make up the human condition. Only then will the mirror of poetry be perfect.'
Jake Campbell, Poetry School

'Corbett’s writing on nature is both jubilant and troubled, lit by the joys of exploring the countryside of West Yorkshire, but equally alert to environmental problems caused by humans...When Corbett lets her enthusiasm for the natural world loose her writing is energizing...'
Suzannah V. Evans, Times Literary Supplement

'Corbett proves herself throughout these poetic depictions of nature to be a timeless and sensual writer. She is subtly sonnet-like in her portrayal of opposing concepts, pitting safety and surety against risk, the rural against the urban, the here versus the elsewhere, and the then versus the now.'
Biana Pellet, The London Magazine

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About The Author

Born in 1970, Sarah grew up in North Wales and gained a PhD in Critical and Creative Writing from Manchester University in 2013. Her first collection of poetry 'The Red Wardrobe' (Seren, 1998) won the Eric Gregory Award and was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize and the Forward Best First Collection Prize. She followed with 'The Witch Bag' (Seren, 2002), 'Other Beasts' (Seren, 2008) as well as 'And She Was' (Pavilion Poetry, 2015). She currently lives in the Calder Valley and is a Lecturer in Creative Writing for Lancaster University.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Cover1
Contents7
The Commute9
Warming10
Walking Home11
Cycling the Island12
The Garden13
Swallow Hole16
Sylvia Plath’s House17
Sixteen Acres19
The Trap21
Praise Song22
View of a Badger on the Heights Road23
The Meaning of Birds24
The Ghost of a Flea26
Nest27
Twinned Sonnets28
Counting the Pennies30
Swan Upping31
The Frozen River32
Marsh Lily34
Praise Song35
To a Dandelion36
Moths37
Sestina for Rain38
A Perfect Mirror40
The Unicorn49
Praise Song50
Relics51
Getting Lost55
Woods in Snow56
Moon Walk57
Halfway Back58
New Moon61
Acknowledgments62
Notes63