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Kathryn Simmonds

Scenes from Life on Earth

Scenes from Life on Earth


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Addressing the loss of the poet’s mother – as well as themes of motherhood, birth, death, and the natural world – Scenes from Life on Earth explores how we grieve and remember those we love. Simmonds continues to write through the prism of her faith, offering insights and wisdom on the circuit of life, of life’s endings, and the promise of reconciliation.

Praise for this Book

‘In poems that are searching, though not solemn, Kathryn Simmonds is attentive to the everyday while conveying the unspoken and the mysteries of life and death with which we live. In “The Night I Died”, she reveals astonishingly: “I touched the cavity / where my heart had been, white ceramic like a soap dish splashed with blood”. A deeply thoughtful and captivating collection.’ —Moniza Alvi

‘The ecstatic language of Kathryn Simmonds’ poems moves shadow-cast creatures and sombre conditions into the sun until light radiates through and around them, and finally onto the reader. These inquiring poems celebrate the living, the dead and life itself.’ —Kathryn Maris

‘Kathryn Simmonds has an uncanny knack for finding human resonance in just about everything.’ —Roger Robinson

Praise for Previous Work

‘Simmonds incorporates life’s bits and bobs into her poetry: changing mats, Yellow Pages, a jumbo marker. But what raises her book above the average — it has been shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection — is a desire to bring the spiritual into the quotidian. Christ (renamed Dave) strolls down the King's Road in low-slung jeans and angels make several appearances.’ —Stephen Knight, Independent

‘Simmonds chillingly demonstrates how the intricacies of 21st century life both obscure our view of impending doom and protect us from thinking about it. The difficulties of living are also key to the book’s central section, 20 short poems called ‘Life Coach Variations’, which are a wry look at the irony of anyone thinking they have life licked: the life coach himself struggles on, not really knowing how to manage his own life.’ —Cato Pedder, Write Out Loud

The Visitations is a collection of beautifully made poems invigorated by a special kind of wit… Simmonds’s dexterity, comic-seriousness and assuredness of touch are amply demonstrated.’ —The Poetry Review

‘This playful and knowing first collection is fuelled throughout by a strong sense of lyricism.’ —The Guardian

‘Quirky, witty, moving Kathryn Simmonds’ gift is to find joy and beauty in unexpected places. She invests the everyday world with an extraordinary luminosity.’ —Jackie Kay

‘An expansive imagination, a wide formal range, wit and humanity – Sunday at the Skin Laundrette is a remarkable debut.’ —Michael Symmons Roberts

‘Kathryn Simmonds’ first collection Sunday at the Skin Launderette deservedly won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 2008 (it also reached the Costa lists). The whole collection searches relentlessly: for meaning in graves (looking in vain for the grave of Ezra Pound); for elusive meaning in a Botticelli Madonna; and, in a really clever poem, ‘In Service’, for the meaning of a mother-child bond – somehow making the mother’s ‘service’ to the child like that of Mary (of Bethany) to Christ. She’s a droll writer – a droll in a stage sense, as well – sharing stray but vital banter, juggling in a kind of slow motion with ideas. This is a collection I wanted to read repeatedly. It’s wonderful.’ —Bill Greenwell, The Independent

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