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In this, her third collection, Sue Hubbard meditates on art and the natural world. By going to the extreme edge of western Ireland, to a Cornish beach, to the rim of the Solway Firth and the mouth of the Thames she explores, in these disarmingly direct and evocative poems, in a language that is muscular and lyrical, painterly yet spare, the illusion of romantic love and the letting go of childhood grief. In the central section, based on paintings by the artist Rachel Howard, she examines the psychology of different women in extremis.
‘There is nothing safely aesthetic about these poems, beautifully observed though they frequently are. The watching intelligence reaches so far into the places, situations or works of art that it nearly forgets itself, and maybe desires to. The central block of poems on the tragic deaths of women signal that danger, and make it all the more of an achievement when the closing poems journey to the edge of the Atlantic, almost beyond comfort or habitable land, and come back with a final, hard-won ‘...yes’’ —Philip Gross
‘'There are two kinds of islands' begins the poem, Dreaming of Islands, 'those born of erasure and fracture'. From the 'river's dark skin' at Bow Creek to Yves Klein, from St Ives to Prussian Blue; from Cliff and Elvis to Charing Cross, from Dora Carrington to Diane Arbus, Sue Hubbard locates places and people with a lyrical precision of voice, following those erasures and fractures to a 'fragile yes'. The poems surge with a natural force breathing the world 'into and out of itself'. A mixture of nature and art, this is an impressive book.’ —George Szirtes
‘Whether describing the Thames estuary or the remote west coast of Ireland, Sue Hubbard pays close and exact attention to the elemental world and the vulnerability of the human within it. These moving poems face the “anthracite dark” outside and inside us, and emerge renewed by it, like prayers “written on the waves”.’ —Pascale Petit
‘On Girl in White: Masterly, moving; a truly impressive novel and a great achievement.’ —Fay Weldon
‘On Girl in White: I recommend this haunting book.’ —John Berger
‘Ghost Station is a marvellous book. Whether she is writing about art, love or memory, Sue Hubbard pays attention to the important things: the details, the incidentals, the faraway, the everyday, all the things we are inclined to neglect which make up the real fabric of our daily lives.’ —John Burnside
‘On Ghost Station: From its opening poem, ‘Nude in a Bathtub’, about the wife Pierre Bonnard painted again and again until her death, the poems in this collection repeatedly move from a powerful evocation of the intimacy of relationships to a painful sense of what it is to experience their loss. This is a collection by a poet who is not afraid to employ strong emotion and who uses her visual imagination to powerful and vivid effect.’ —Vicki Feaver
‘The Forgetting and Remembering of Air is a stunning piece of work – an achingly moving narrative of love for a child, parent, sibling, lover or icon. In these poems Hubbard is travelling through love and its possibilities of home, moving fast towards the acceptance of the disappointment, the ruin of it, like that great house of the cover. ‘The Idea of Islands’ finds her acquiescent to the dark – the ‘forgetting’. In these final poems the voice – ‘I’ rather than ‘he’ or ‘she’ – holds us rapt. The promise of blue, the previous sumptuous oozing of colour, of life, has gone; there is just the ‘green fuse, the quiet heart beating’. Hubbard drags her nascent grief, like Robert Bly’s black bag, through the body of all these poems – a heavy journeying through which she ‘had hoped for miracles’ and the ‘merging of I with you’ but finds only a ‘returning again and again’ that is ‘always indifferent’.’ —Ellen Bell, New Welsh Review
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