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Like King David's, the muse of Strange Land, Tim Kendall's voice is angry and loving, plaintive, disdainful, celebratory. This is a twenty-first-century psalter. A first collection with conviction and authority, "Strange Land" gathers poems of love and of the natural world, elegies and satires, poems of childhood and parenthood, verses of the familiar and the exotic, apocalyptic and meditative. Kendall resists settling for the comfort of a single voice: in their formal variousness his poems evoke lives that are questing and contradictory, antic and mundane. The history of the last century cannot be evaded - poems are haunted by the Second World War and its legacy, by Einstein, by the space race and the transformative discoveries of Hubble. "Strange Land" surveys present and past with implacable intensity. That intensity requires the drowning of all other poets in 'Ship of Fools', a loving satire in which Kendall finds himself the sole survivor of a poetry scene sunk to unexpected depths. The Psalms provide a ground bass for the book's music; they inspire and accuse the author as he engages modern culture.
They are present not only as a key source of allusion, but also in their emotional range. The book's title comes from Psalms CXXXVII, which is luminously illustrated on the book cover.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
'Kendall's excellent first collection is sprightly, challenging and surprising. Most markedly Strange Land is beautifully diverse in its address...' - David Morley, the Guardian.