About Alison Brackenbury

Alison Brackenbury was born in 1953 in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. She read English at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, and has worked as a librarian in a technical college (1976-83), then as a part-time accounts and clerical assistant (1985-1989). From 1990 until her retirement in 2012, she was a director and manual worker in the family metal finishing business. She is married, with one daughter, and lives in Gloucestershire.

Her poetry collections include Dreams of Power (1981), Breaking Ground (1984), Christmas Roses (1988), Selected Poems (1991), 1829 (1995), After Beethoven (2000) and Bricks and Ballads (2004), all published by Carcanet. She has received a Cholmondeley Award and an Eric Gregory Award, and her poems have been featured many times on BBC Radio 3 and 4. Singing in the Dark, Brackenbury's seventh book of poetry, was reviewed by Charles Bainbridge in The Guardian, who wrote that her work "is characterised by a concern with stillness and natural detail, by a closeness to the ballad form, and, most of all, by a quiet lyricism and delight that is constantly being challenged, constantly under threat." Her later poems are deeply influenced by an amateur passion for Britain’s folksongs – She has scripted six programmes for BBC Radio 3, including Singing in the Dark, a celebration of the stubborn survival of Britain's traditional songs. Her eighth collection, Then, was published in 2013, with Vidyan Ravinthiran writing of the collection in Poetry London that "the delicate particularity…of her style chimes with that of the world. ….One hopes that Brackenbury’s kind of distinctive formal sensibility won’t disappear any time soon."

While this formal sensibility is certainly a defining aspect of Brackenbury's poetry, it is not what is most striking about hearing her recite her work. These poems find their resonance in a clear plain-spokenness, their unhurried and careful construction revealed as the product of an unusual, close attention, which intensifies over the course of a poem, becoming rapt, and through their joyful watching and listening developing a power capable of astonishment and self-revelation. It is the centred and watchful outward gaze of Brackenbury's poems that make their subjects such vivid presences, and has caused Gillian Clark to comment: "Alison Brackenbury loves, lives, hymns and rhymes the natural world and its people like no other poet."

This recording was made for The Poetry Archive on 28 August 2013 at DB Studios and was produced by Richard Carrington.

Alison Brackenbury's favourite poetry sayings:

The angel appeared to shepherds, and to poets. – William Langland

Selected bibliography

Selected Poems, Carcanet, 1991

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Afer Beethoven, Carcanet, 2000

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Bricks and Ballads, Carcanet, 2004

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Singing in the Dark, Carcanet, 2008

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Then, Carcanet, 2013

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Prizes

1997 Cholmondeley Award

1982 Eric Gregory Award

Recordings

Alison Brackenbury

Alison Brackenbury Downloads

1Honeycomb

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2Lapwings

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3On The Aerial

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4At The Beginning

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5Provision

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6After the X-ray

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7At Eighty

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8Dickens - A Daydream

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9In The Black Country

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10Overnight

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12No

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12Rented Rooms

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13The Beanfields Scent

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14Linum

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15The Spring at Chedworth

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16Edward Thomas’ Daughter

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17Xerxes, an Opera

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18Yesterday Vivaldi visited me, and sold me some very expensive concerto’s

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19Prepositions

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20Display

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21After Beethoven

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22Puff

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23Epigrams

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24The Nymph Considers the Garden

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25The Trent Rises, 1947

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26Bookkeeping

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27On the Move

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28Money

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30Apple Country

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31Robert Brackenbury

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32High Notes

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33Hill Mist

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34Three

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35Christmas Roses

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36December 25th, 12 noon

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37Bath Cubes

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38The Blue Door

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39At Needlehole

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40Tewkesbury

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41Flood

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42Scraper

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43Wilfred Owen at the Advanced Horse Transport Depot, 1917

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44On The Boards

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29The House

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Books by Alison Brackenbury