These are the voices of those who are silent: in the graveyards, holy wells, the river, the changing tides. A ghostly choir of lost children, hermits, lovers and rough sleepers, serving maids and sailor boys, saints and hermaphrodites resounding through the rhythms of the water. Places and objects communicate also: a chapel, oak tree, back-lane, woodland, riverside town; bones sing and a bell tolls. The poems speak with them and for them, channelling their messages, their visions and their warnings.
‘Through Eleanor Rees’ shape-shifting, muscular poems we enter a place where identity is fluid, where surfaces can’t be trusted. A boy in the woods wakes up younger than he was, his body returning to seed. A clock “wrings the day dark”. The city is first an empty vein, then a place of abundance and beginnings. These poems stay with you long after reading. They bristle with images that you feel rather than just read: “I am in the grass as the trowel rips through… / I am in the water as it strains through earth to sea…”.’ —Helen Mort
‘Rees’s work is completely deserving of its shortlist position, even more so for a voice outside the mainstream. That can only be good news for small presses, literary awards and non-dead poets everywhere.’ —Ross Sutherland, Liverpool Metro
‘Eleanor Rees's debut collection offers up a heartfelt hymn to her native Liverpool. Her dense, textured renderings of its landscapes are eloquent, but it is her importunate, ambiguous relationship with the city that provides these poems with their drive.’ —Sarah Crown, The Guardian
‘I love the meaty, muscularity of the poems in this collection. It’s not often you read something engaged with urban life that is intense and personal, rather than sociological and fashionable’ —Frank Cottrell Boyce
‘Eleanor Rees comes from ‘over the water’, and her poems seem to issue from a lyric country where they do things differently. Instinctive, elemental and ready for anything they twist and coil marvellously between inner and outer worlds, never resting for long in either, always beguiling or unsettling the reader ...’ —Paul Farley
‘... an ambitious, experimental voice vibrantly charged with the energy of city life.’ —Carol Ann Duffy