Short-Listed For The Felix Dennis Best First Collection Prize (Forward Prizes For Poetry 2007) Bridging the divide between experimental, performance and traditional poetries the poems in Andraste’s Hair draw on myth, memory, folksong and murder ballad. Often set in a mythical Liverpool, a city of metamorphosis and magic, grotesque and beautiful, its buildings are a backdrop for visions and apprehensions of the past. Liverpool at night is a place where boundaries are crossed in search of knowledge, sexual, historical, and emotional – between life and death.
Natural and urban landscapes – woodland, city park, dock, terraced street, the river, provide settings for an exploration of the conflict between instinctive and cultured knowledge, between abstract thought and felt experience. The poems are active and forceful – looking for answers they never find. Realities are established and than subverted. Women become trees, cities become men, roads become rivers, night becomes dawn, and the world is constantly transformed, constantly in flux.
Collaborative processes inform the structure of many poems; fusion and the loss of self are preoccupying themes. The poetic voice is remade to articulate what has been discovered in the act of writing. Sometimes erotic, sometimes fierce, sometimes vulnerable the poems fuse a musical sense of language with a grounded vision of the world.
‘Eleanor Rees comes from ‘over the water’, and her poems seem to issue from a lyric country where they do things differently. Instinctive, elemental, limber 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
‘Eleanor Rees’s first full-length collection introduces an ambitious, experimental voice, vibrantly charged with the energy of city life.’ —Carol Ann Duffy
‘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
‘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