Alibi is Latin for “elsewhere” and the poems include a sequence on the wanderings of Psyche, ‘The Earliest Map’ which won a prize in the 1985 National Poetry Competition, and ‘Herodotus in Egypt Remembers Delos,’ which foreshadows the travel and wandering themes of Ruth’s future work, and an elegy for the scholar poet Alasdair Clayre.
‘Eleven lean, haunting, elusive poems: with incandescent images and unpredictable internal rhymes, Ruth Padel fuses the arcane and the luminous into a single harmony. A strongly-lived experience of Greece today is the bridge uniting the poet with her calling as an academic. Her studies under E.R.Dodds would have been enough to open any author up, disturb the contents, and distribute the fragments more kindly. There is an awesome freedom from illusions and an enviable dexterity of allusions: to a handful of classical figures each once, to Seferis without a murmur and, mostly by implication, and mysteriously, to the texture of light in the land. The note sounded is preponderantly lyric but a whiplash force is packed into lines that continue to move and sound beyond the final letter.’ Kevin Andrewes, The Athenian
‘A witty and mysterious intermingling of the scholarly and the erotic. For Padel, the ordinariness of the ancient derives not only from evoocative qualities of Greek landscape or language but from a sense that everyday experience may be prefigured by the classical: or that the classical, as her title Alibi suggests, has a parallel existence in another place. The most moving poem is an accomplished and intimate memorial tribute to Alasdair Clayre.’ Tim Dooley, Argo
‘A rich and dramatic cataloguing of the moment in detail: classical themes provide the framework for the poem’s closed world in which images grow out of and answer each other. Her dialogue is not with the past, but with difficult relationships in and with the present, which she observes through fragments of myth, lore and history.’ Yann Lovelock, Acumen