by Bethany W. Pope
Family stories and extraordinary images glow throughout this compelling debut collection from an award-winning author – like the disc of uranium buried in her grandfather’s backyard.
A Radiance ‘gives glimpses into a world both contemporary and deeply attuned to history – the embattled history of a family, but also of the American South where the author grew up.’
Paperback; 72pp; 203×127 mm; 978-0-9568921-3-3; June 2012; Cultured Llama
Praise for A Radiance
Bethany Pope’s compelling debut collection, A Radiance, weaves the voices of four generations into a rich story of family betrayal and survival, shame and grace, the visceral and the sublime. Unafraid to mine the darkest, most intimate and most radiant aspects of human experience, Pope’s poetry gives glimpses into a world both contemporary and deeply attuned to history – the embattled history of a family, but also of the American South where the author grew up. A sense of offbeat wonder at everyday miracles of survival and love both fires these poems and haunts them – in the best possible way.
-Tiffany Atkinson is a poet and literary critic, and teaches English and Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University. Author of Kink and Particle (Seren 2006) and Catulla et al (Bloodaxe 2011).
The central image of Bethany Pope’s collection is a tin of army surplus uranium buried by her grandfather in the back yard. A similar weird light, dangerous and beautiful, illuminates these poems of family history, love and childhood. An exhilarating and exceptional new voice in poetry.
-Matthew Francis Matthew Francis is a poet, novelist and Reader in Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University. He is the author of four poetry collections, Blizzard, Dragons, Whereabouts and Mandeville and a novel, WHOM.
This is a stunning debut collection. It seems as if nothing has escaped her gaze: from uranium hidden light to the ‘roots which grow from watching’. Like the blade of her ancestor’s knife, her pen, too, cuts a fine feast of welcome at the kitchen table. In a lacerated world of experience, these poems invite us to reinvent loss as a new kind of dwelling, where the infinitesimal becomes as luminous as ever. The stories shared also remind us that the past never fully disappears.
-Menna Elfyn is an award-winning poet and playwright. She is the best known and most translated of all modern Welsh-language poets. Author of over twenty books of poetry including Aderyn Bach Mewn Llaw (1990), winner of a Welsh Arts Council Prize; the bilingual Eucalyptus: Detholiad o Gerddi / Selected Poems 1978-1994 from Gomer and her previous collection, Cell Angel (1996) from Bloodaxe. She has also written libretti for US and UK composers. Menna is Director of the Masters Programme in Creative Writing at Trinity University, Carmarthen and is Literary Fellow at Swansea University.
A Radiance is a stunningly original debut collection from Bethany Pope, a young American poet who is now settled in the UK. Consisting of eighteen longish poems, each of which covers two to three pages, it traces Pope’s family history across four generations from the patriarchal figure of Ole’Doc, her maternal great-grandfather, who is a mine owner and medic, down to the present day in which she focuses on her own relationship with her parents and grandparents. A writer of prose as well as poetry, Pope might well have been tempted to shape her material into the more obvious format of a prose memoir. However, she has chosen instead to crystallise key moments into a fragmented verse narrative in which each piece stands on its own merits, but builds up by the end into something greater. Sinuous, sustained, and full of savour, Pope’s verse draws us into the lives of characters in the American Deep South and creates a world that is convincing and utterly engrossing.
-David Cooke, author of Workhorses
A Radiance is a remarkable collection which presents us with a family who encountered extraordinary events. Yet the predominate tone of the narrator is pride at relations who suffered but were strong as pioneers and by the end of their lives had been rewarded for their pains.
–Fiona SInclair, author of A Game of Hide and Seek. View her marvelous website here