Winner of the Crashaw Prize
From diamonds hidden in a grandmother’s pantry to a nun teaching a sex education lesson, Birdhouse is full of life – and its flip-side.
It includes an award-winning sequence of elegies for the poet’s family who were victims of the holocaust.
Already widely published, this is Anna Woodford’s first full-length collection.
a series of elegies for the poet’s grandparents, reveals Woodford’s writing at its best: understated, genuine and emotionally intelligent.
Paperback: 80 pages
Publisher: Salt Publishing
Publication date: 1 December 2010
As Birdhouse is the first poem in the book, it would seem a hard act to follow for its intensity, accuracy and – yes – its beauty. Yet, while not all the poems rise to that level of ebullience, Anna Woodford’s perfect pitch, control of suspense and capacity for surprise are everywhere in working order.
Finally this week, a mention for the beautiful poetry of Anna Woodford. I’ve had her award-winning debut collection Birdhouse on my to-read pile for ages and finally managed to steal an afternoon to enjoy it this week. It includes poems about sex, escaping school, pregnancy, nuns and a miniskirt scandalising a pit village. It is quite, quite wonderful.
she revisits her childhood in lines which are clear and confident, colloquial and powerful.
Though these poems are deeply personal, Woodford also engages the reader through universal themes of love, loss, childhood and family. There is darkness, but not bitterness, loss but also strength, emotion, celebration and wit. This heartfelt and intimate exploration of life lingers with the reader.
You fiddle with the catch
between my legs until my mouth
springs open and I am
crowing like an everyday bird that has
entered the heights of an aviary. I am
scaling the bars, wide-
spreading my common or garden
fan while your beady eye hangs
over my body. My voice goes
flying in our feathered bed from
your forefinger and thumb, my next cry
rests on the tip of your tongue.