Traversing the broken, collapsed, eroded stones, looking for voices that express the damaged and the damned, Asylum pays homage to the darkness of the human cave: its memories and ancient histories, and to its more contemporary signals - internationally owned quarries, abandoned coal mines, decommissioned Cold War bunkers.
Like his two previous books, Asylum was written live on-site; in this case deep within the caves, mines, quarries, geological and archaeological horizons of the Mendip Hills in Somerset. The poems stage modes of exile in the darkness of earth, enacting solidarity with those others who have made their journey into the underworld - Dante, Orpheus, blinded Oedipus, Euripides. These are semi-dramatic voicings, staged across the thirty-mile theatre of the Mendip subterranean- each an act of recovery, of rescue. Traversing the broken, collapsed, eroded stones, looking for voices that express the damaged and the damned, Asylum pays homage to the darkness of the human cave- its memories and ancient histories, and to its more contemporary signals - internationally owned quarries, abandoned coal mines, decommissioned Cold War bunkers.
As with Bee Journal and Human Work, these poems take on the nature of the experience recorded. Written blind, as it were, the diction here becomes mineral, deeply tactile - hard and granular, alert to sound in its own blackness. Descending underground with the poet is to enter a theatre of heightened senses, and these extraordinary poems feel both unearthed and unearthly.
Sean Borodale was born in London and works as a poet and artist. His first collection of poetry, Bee Journal, was shortlisted for the 2012 Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, the Costa Poetry Book Award and the T. S. Eliot Prize. In 2014 he was selected as one of twenty Next Generation Poets. He currently teaches Creative Writing at Royal Holloway.
There's something of the performance artist about Borodale as he takes his readers step by step through every stage of his adventures. -- Paul Bailey Literary Review
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