Shortlisted for the 2017 Costa Poetry Award
To be alive is to be inside the wave, always travelling until it breaks and is gone. These poems are concerned with the borderline between the living and the dead – the underworld and the human living world – and the exquisitely intense being of both. They possess a spare, eloquent lyricism as they explore the bliss and anguish of the voyage.
Inside the Wave is Helen Dunmore’s tenth and final poetry book, her first since The Malarkey (2012), whose title-poem won the National Poetry Competition. Her other books include Glad of These Times (2007), and Out of the Blue: Poems 1975-2001 (2001), a comprehensive selection drawing on seven previous collections. Her final poem, 'Hold out your arms', written shortly before her death and not included in the first printing of Inside the Wave, has now been added to the reprint.
'She was – first and last – a poet. Her first collection, The Apple Fall, was published when she was 30, her last, Inside the Wave, in April this year... Her last collection is her most spare and moving. Inside the Wave is smooth as a sea pebble and liminal – poised between life and death.' - Kate Kellaway, in her tribute to Helen Dunmore in The Guardian
‘The wave in this humane and visionary collection symbolises the flow of time and tide around and over individual lives… Lying down and watching the world at eye level constitutes much of what poets and novelists do and Dunmore’s work in both genres is always alive with sensuous detail.’ – Carol Rumens, Poetry Book of the Month, The Observer
‘Henry James, in The Art of Fiction, urged the apprentice novelist to “try to be one of those people on whom nothing is lost”. In a career of great distinction, Dunmore has not only acted on the advice – as both novelist and poet – but has offered the reader a chance to share her remarkable alertness, imaginative range and generosity of spirit.’ – Sean O’Brien, The Guardian [on Inside the Wave]
‘These are uneasy yet companionable poems, watchful and urgent.’ – David Wheatley, Literary Review [on Inside the Wave]
'...elegiac but uplifting... This is a book that deals with mortality, but also surprises with its insights and imaginative drive.’ - Jessica Traynor, on Inside the Wave, which she reviewed on RTE Radio 1’s Arena
‘Before her death from cancer in June, aged 64, Helen Dunmore fired one last dazzling salvo with this stunning poetry collection… The poems in Inside the Wave inhabit the twilit, liminal spaces between life and death… Their pared-down quality renders them all the more moving; their bright flashes of imagery like sunlit sea-glass on dull sand.’ – Juanita Coulson, Book of the Week, The Lady
‘It is a wonderful collection, worth reading not only for the beautiful lyricism of the verse, but also for the insights into the human condition contained. It is powerful and moving without being in the least maudlin, a celebration of life made in the knowledge that it must end.’ – Frank Startup, The School Librarian
Helen Dunmore reads six poems
Filmed at her home in Bristol in June 2007, Helen Dunmore reads six poems: Wild strawberries’, ‘When You’ve Got’, ‘Candle poem’, ‘City lilacs’, 'Glad of these times' and ‘Dolphins whistling’ from Out of the Blue: Poems 1975-2001 (2001) and Glad of These Times (2007). This film is from the DVD-book In Person: 30 Poets, filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce, edited by Neil Astley.