The Dog of Memory
The dog of memory, an animal more often unbiddable and capricious than it is comforting and predictable, roams the landscapes of its choice: not only place, Helen Farish’s native Cumberland and further afield – mornings in Sicily, night skies in Athens – and people, but also the landscape of literature itself, explored through inventive re-readings of ten authors first encountered during the poet’s school days.
Farish’s doggéd and rigorous meditation on memory ranges far and wide, employing a poetic which is equally assured whether on territory close to home – snowy childhood afternoons at an aunt’s – or evoking Caesar on the sands of Alexandria. Rendered in poetry of dexterity and poise, this authoritative third collection takes the reader on a deeply moving but thrilling journey which is lyric, dramatic, enquiring.
Poems from The Dog of Memory
Select to read poems in full:
You wore a striped blazer in an ironic way.A borrowing
I wore a long black dress, though it was spring
and the night that lay ahead perfumed
How does Casterbridge appear from the airPastoral
on this coppery evening, the mayor having dined,
the clock sounding eight, emptying the square?
Watching from windows – back bedroom, dining room,Six hen pheasants in my garden last Tuesday
kitchen, stairs – following the nervous progress
of the birds from the old blackcurrant patch
Praise for The Dog of Memory
The Dog of Memory is Helen Farish’s third collection, a deep and meditative ode to the power of memory. The book yearns ‘not to let anything go from this world’ (‘Remanence’) before it has been recorded by Farish’s pen. Her poems swirl, speed and then slow beneath the might of time, tracing time through place, history and literature. Clocks and calendars, moments and pauses usher us through the book, as Farish questions: how do we record our memories and write ourselves into history? The Dog of Memory handles time and memory with immense delicacy, imagination and wonderful attention to detail.Poetry Book Society Bulletin, Autumn 2016
The title of Helen Farish’s new collection draws attention to her delight in quirky metaphor: the lover imagined as a library book, the woman as an idea, memory as a herding dog... Her locations are as varied as you’d expect from a well-travelled, sharp-eyed twenty-first century poet, but her native Cumbria is the source she constantly returns to, slowing the tempo to savour its place-names and define its subtle colours...A rare combination of elegiac feeling, humour, and earthy reminiscence characterises Farish’s poems.Poetry Review, Winter 2016All my reviews