“Many poets wait a lifetime for a poem like this and still don’t get one”.
Angel focusses on multiple ways of seeing, across different personas and across history.
Written while she was working on her book about madness in Tragedy (Whom Gods Destroy) and also during the First Gulf War, Angel was Ruth’s second full collection.
It opens with voices from Bedlam: a demented starling, a GI on trial, remembering scenes from Apocalypse Now, and an alien apparently planning world takeover from the sea bed. Part II sets these in a background of war, a world in might be mad not to go mad in. Part III expresses the same thing through erotic narratives of lunatic innocence to which Part IV adds myths and historical perspectives.
Part V suggests the previous poems could have come from a patient, hiding behind a mask of invented voices.
Poetry Book Society Recommendation 1993.
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“A collection set in the disturbed surreal. The words shiver with excitement and whole poems are like firebreaks in the forest. ‘Indian Red’ is a subtle, controlled exploration of anger and loss. Several poems explore the rub between two cultures, where imbalance of power leads to a corruption of relationship in which one voice persistently drowns out another.”
Times Literary Supplement
“Angel describes an absurd nightmare-country, where things in equal parts ludicrous and terrible occur, and then makes us recognize contemporary England… Truly strange and worth striving for.”
Poetry London Newsletter
“The poems glide forward, ruthless, rich and cool, refracting the world and glinting as they go. They fall free: only when you get to the end do you realize that what she has been saying has had a story to tell.”
“She has fierce humour. Her poems speed, never out of the fast lane. You feel you’ve been on a train that has crashed right through the barriers of the station”.
Poetry Ireland Review
“Who or what is Padel’s angel? A voice outside ourselves, a changing shape, a cheeky cherubic thing, a madness, a glorious energy and a fall from grace. Like the best writer of fictions, Padel slides easily into the skins of others. A fierce intellect supplying violent turbulent poems of a world where nothing stays still for long, using myth and reinterpreting history playfully to show us a universe constantly reinventing itself.”
Maura Dooley, Acumen
“Angel is a fierce piece of work; I can scarcely imagine what it took to take in – to take into consciousness – what she has made into art here.”
“Religious language is a strong source of vocabulary among the already spectacular collection in her possession. Her work is very powerful: as in the stunning poem “Harvest Moon”. Many poets wait a lifetime for a poem like this and still don’t get one”.
“Padel’s poetry is striking for scrupulous diction, chameleon-like adoption of voice, powerful emotional appeal, and the range of its interests, whether exploring the mind of a seventeenth-century British botanist or a character in Apocalypse Now.”
Stephen Bernstein, Poetry Department, University of Michigan
“Weird, gripping little narratives in a wide range of accents, tones, and moods. The varied settings and subject-matter, the human sympathies and richness of language makes this an absorbing book.”
– Fleur Adcock, Poetry Book Society Bulletin
“All the verbal dynamism, upended perspective and implosive fire I look for and so rarely find in English poetry. The inventive vocabulary, imagery, and energy burn, and energize the nerves. Great.”