“Daring and genuinely innovative work: a unique sense of drama, speed and poetic intensity.”
“An immensely moving, beautifully written exploration of the beauty, pain, suffering and imaginative potency of migration -– and an opportunity to witness, to overhear (and have one’s own mind fired up by) a witty, wonderful intellect plumbing the phenomenon of migration and its intellectual, ethical, historical, political and aesthetic implications.”
‘Magnificent poems…A triumph of artistic ingenuity…’
“Sweeping and unconventional – her poems and essays are a lyrical tribute to the instincts and whims, trials and beauties that catalyse movement.”
“A prodigy, a book of wonders… sheerly brilliant.”
“Extraordinary breadth of erudition, sensitivity to different cultural environments and powerful visual alertness: readers will be struck by the mature command of these poems as well as their great range of subject and feeling.”
“A poet of great eloquence and delicate skill, an exquisite image-maker who can work wonders with the great tradition of line and stanza. Her voice has an astonishing resonance.”
“A poet and scholar with a beautifully patient understanding, reminiscent of Ted Hughes, of how the natural word invests itself in our experience.”
Ruth is an award-winning British poet and writer. She teaches Poetry at King’s College London.
Her new book, Tidings – A Christmas Journey, is a narrative poem about Christmas, homelessness and sunrise. It is set in and around Old St Pancras Church, London. but takes in the whole world from east Australia to Asia, the Middle East and Rome to Manhattan.
Ruth’s other books, see below, include ten poetry collections, Where the Serpent Lives, a novel on wildlife crime, and eight books of non-fiction: including I’m A Man: Sex, Gods and Rock ‘n’ Roll on rock music and Greek myths, Tigers in Red Weather a memoir on frontline tiger conservation in Asian forests, and the Poem and the Journey on reading contemporary poems.
Here is the opening to Tidings
The Voice of Silence
I am the oldest angel, the dark side of the brain.
Everything untold, suppressed, unseemly or wild
is under my protection. I am Charoum,
Angel of Silence. I am the seed of fire
in a hearth you thought was cold,
the stillness when you step into moonlit snow
and who you are in private. I appear
whenever surface cracks,
lustre and veneer rub thin. Silence, you say,
when you make room for wonder.
I am less and less here. But tonight, for twenty-four
strange hours in the darkness of the year, I have a voice –
For this is Christmas Eve when everything hidden
comes alive. Children’s toys
that have rolled under a sofa, or stayed
in the cupboard unplayed-with for years,
the mice you weren’t aware of in the wall,
and your own unspoken longing to be given
something more by life: suddenly, if you listen,
all unnoticed things can talk. And so can I. Tonight
I play a part in everyone’s secret search
for something better. Come with me
to St Pancras Old Church, on a little London hill
runed with twenty centuries of human stories.
Nearby, shops are closing on Camden High Street,
Euston Road. The sky is that bruise-colour
you hardly think is sky, and sodium lights
from the station terminal
flicker in glass sides of the bus shelter
like a zodiac on mica.
London’s neon glory falls
on wet-purple tarmac of Royal
College Street and its last-minute traffic:
on roadworks, traffic cones, surveillance cameras
above the door of a homeless hostel
and the final Eurostar before the Christmas break.