Extreme of things is a large collection combining new poems with a thematic selection from recent books. It explores the duality of existence, a track that runs through all Jenny Joseph’s work, whether for children or adults, in poetry or prose.
This new book continues her attempt to present “how things work” at the core, at the edge. It begins with poems from her last two collections, Ghosts and other company (1995) and All the Things I See (2000), which lead to the body of new and previously uncollected poems in the second part. The ‘Season Songs’ from Persephone (1986), her long out-of-print fictional work, are here reprinted as a bridge or interlude between the two main parts.
‘Jenny Joseph writes poems full of mist and reason, poems strange in what they say but plain in the way they say it, poems rooted in an English tradition of passionate but quiet exactness…careful craftsmanship, an honest exploration of the human heart, and statement after statement that nags at the memory’ – Robert Nye, The Times
‘She can delineate surfaces like a sculptor – exact, precise, sharply definite – yet with a startling undertow, a pull of unease which lies just beneath the texture, as an artery beneath the skin’ – Joan Foreman, Eastern Daily Press
‘Rational, realist, philosophical, Jenny Joseph represents a stoical refusal to see life other than it is – a less sentimental poetry it would be hard to imagine’ – British Book News
Jenny Joseph reads 'Warning'
Jenny Joseph reads 'Warning', Britain's most popular post-war poem, according to a poll conducted by the BBC in 1996. She first published 'Warning' in 1961 in The Listener – when she was 29 – and later included it in her second collection Rose in the Afternoon in 1974, and then in her Selected Poems from Bloodaxe in 1992. Pamela Robertson-Pearce filmed her reading the poem during Ledbury Poetry Festival in July 2008.
Jenny Joseph (1932-2018)
In July 2008 Jenny Joseph was filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce reading a set of poems she felt represented the range of her work: two extracts from ‘Fables’ (from Selected Poems, 1992), ‘Another Story of Hare and Tortoise’ (from Extreme of Things, 2006); ‘Patriotic poem against nationalism’ (from Ghosts and other company, 1995); and ’Such is the sea’ (from Extreme of Things, 2006). She scripted this informal reading, with introductions, for later inclusion in the Bloodaxe Books DVD-anthology In Person: World Poets. These are followed here by a separate reading from the same filming session (made before her reading at Ledbury Poetry Festival) of her best-known poem, ‘Warning’, a dramatic monologue in which a young woman talks of her fantasies of old age, voted Britain’s favourite modern poem in a BBC poll in 2006 (from Selected Poems, 1992).