John Burnside: The Hunt in the Forest

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The Hunt in the Forest is an incredibly short collection of poetry unning to just 52 pages but its depth is uite astonishing There is a eal uality of beauty in Burnside s imagery and I very much enjoyed the way in which nature and animality looped each. In these poems of hunting and predation Burnside explores our most deep ooted and primeval pursuits Reindeer and Caribou: Health and Disease romantic love memory selfhood grief theecollection of the dead Yet just as we seek so are we sought out at any moment we may slide into loss or be gathered in by some otherworldly light; at any momen.

Of the poems togetherI shall leave you with an extract from Abridged a section in An Essay Concerning Light the second pared downto essentials a clouded bazaara boy on his way to churchin the midsummer heatand someone in the kitchen eatingpomegranates wh. T the angel of the annunciation may seek us out and demand some astonishing transformation Even in the pursuit of love or in the exercise of memory we fall into snares and become entangled in veils; just as we are always on the point of discovery so we are always a hair’s breadth away from being los.

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Ile the wakeful deadwandered away through side streetsand dusty suareswith all they could carry Liked it even better than All One Breath Poetry seen from within the perspective of the hunt in the forest words are creatures under the scrutiny of silence. T Concerned with love and mourning with what we discover and what emains hidden – with learning how to follow the trail through the forest and find the way home – above all these poems are about the uest knowing that whatever we bring back from the hunt it is always hard won and never fully our

John Burnside is the author of nine collections of poetry and five works of fiction Burnside has achieved wide critical acclaim winning the Whitbread Poetry Award in 2000 for The Asylum Dance which was also shortlisted for the Forward and T S Eliot prizes Born in Scotland he moved away in 1965 returning to settle there in 1995 In the intervening period he worked as a factory hand a labour