When Helen Dunmore passed away nearly 2 years ago, she left behind a vast library of work – more than 50 books in total. More well-known for her fiction, the Bristol writer was also a revered, award-winning and brilliant poet with 10 collections to her name. Poetry was Dunmore’s first love, too, as the writer and critic, Erica Wagner, noted: “she (Dunmore) was a poet always in her heart”
A new, 400-page collected volume of Dunmore’s poetry, Counting Backwards, has been published by Bloodaxe, her poetry publisher for nearly 40 years. It captures the full range of her work written over the last four decades, and features more than 300 of her poems.
As the title suggests, the collection begins with poems from her most recent collection, Inside the Wave, which was named Costa Book of the Year in 2018, and proceeds retrospectively through Dunmore’s other volumes, finishing with work from her debut book of poetry, 1983’s The Apple Fall.
It is a fitting celebration of a hugely talented poet, and it ensures that Dunmore’s thought-provoking and powerful poetry will continue to be read for decades to come. As the writer, Kate Clanchy, wrote when reviewing Dunmore’s 2007 collection, Glad of These Times: “Because Dunmore is such a successful novelist, some will be tempted to call these poems prosaic. They are not: they are light-boned, but strong: elegant, complex, fully-turned unions of image, thought and sound. In these times, we should be glad of this voice.”
And we should be glad of this new collection, which presents Dunmore’s vast poetic landscape in full view.
Counting Backwards by Helen Dunmore is published by Bloodaxe on February 21. For more information, visit: https://www.bloodaxebooks.com/ecs/product/counting-backwards-1199
Read more: A Tribute to Helen Dunmore