About Jamie McKendrick

Jamie McKendrick was born in Liverpool in 1955, and lives in Oxford, where he teaches part-time and reviews poetry and the visual arts for a number of newspapers and magazines. He is the author of six collections of poetry: The Sirocco Room (1991); The Kiosk on the Brink (1993), winner of the Southern Arts Literature Award and selected for the New Generation Poets promotion; The Marble Fly (1997), winner of the Forward Poetry Prize and a Poetry Book Society Choice; Ink Stone (2003), shortlisted for the 2003 T. S. Eliot Prize and the 2003 Whitbread Poetry Award; Crocodiles & Obelisks (2007), shortlisted for the 2008 Forward Poetry Prize; and Out There (2012), winner of the Hawthornden Prize. His selected poems Sky Nails was published by Faber in 2000, and translated volumes of his poems have been published in Holland and Italy. McKendrick is editor of the Faber Book of 20th-century Italian Poems (2004); his translations from Italian include two novels and forthcoming short stories by Giorgio Bassani and a verse play by Pier Paolo Pasolini. His translation of Valerio Magrelli's The Embrace: Selected Poems (published in a U.S. bilingual edition as Vanishing Points) won the 2010 John Florio Prize for Italian Translation and the 2010 Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize, and his translation of the poetry of Antonella Anedda, Archipelago, is due to be published in 2014.

Sean O' Brien has commented that in McKendrick's poetry we encounter material that "can be both sobering and amusing" - the poems in this selection bear out that remark, with their fascination at how forces, whether seismic or historical, continually threaten to disturb everyday reality: it is in the nature of the often uncanny interruptions presented by these poems that their implications and broader meanings are met with a degree of uncertainty - caught between humour and alarm, or in some unsettling combination of the two. McKendrick's poetry restlessly investigates such states: in the chronicle of prodigies in 'Ancient History', which splices an account by the Roman historian Livy with the contemporary in the form of the first Gulf War, or the equally troubling multiplications of morals and menace in 'Six Characters in Search of Something.' McKendrick's delivery in these recordings echoes the poems' hesitations and leaps of conjecture, whose consequences are never easy, and are often still grappled with at a poem's close.

The sites of these poems are wide-ranging in place and time - from the northern reaches of the Orkneys and Iceland to Mediterranean Barcelona and Naples, even to outer space in the recent poem 'Out There'; from ancient Rome and the Sicily of the Bourbons to modern Italy. The writing brings a vivid sense of otherness into collision with a particular British sensibility. Included in this selection are 'Epithets', McKendrick’s litany of misgivings and wry tributes to his hometown Liverpool, and 'Sky Nails', a poem that could serve as his poems' manifesto, a search for the language to 'nail anything | to nothing | and make it stay.'

This recording was made for The Poetry Archive on 15 May 2013 at The Soundhouse and was produced by Anne Rosenfeld.

 

Jamie McKendrick's favourite poetry sayings:

I’m wary of resorting to the mythic or the supernatural to explain how poems are made, but I like both of these comments for the way they acknowledge the almost equal claims of gift and graft:

'The gods graciously give us for free that first line, but it’s up to us to forge the second, which must accord with the other, and not be unworthy of its supernatural elder...'

Paul Valéry

'There is no forcing the muse, but sometimes a state of earnest solicitation may help.'

Giuseppe Ungaretti

 

 

The Marble Fly, OUP, 1997

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Ink Stone, Faber & Faber, 2003

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Sky Nails: Poems 1979 - 1997, Faber & Faber, 2000

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Crocodiles & Obelisks, Faber & Faber, 2007

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Out There, Faber & Faber, 2012

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Prizes

1984 Eric Gregory Award

1994 Southern Arts Literature Award

1997 Forward Poetry Prize for Best Collection for The Marble Fly

2005 Cavaliere OSSI (Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana)

2010 Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize for Valerio Magrelli's The Embrace

2010 John Florio Prize for Italian Translation for Valerio Magrelli's The Embrace

2013 Hawthornden Prize for Out There

Recordings

Jamie McKendrick

Jamie McKendrick Downloads

1Nostalgia

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2Sky Nails

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3On the Volcano

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4Et in Orcadia Ego

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5Ancient History

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6Six Characters in Search of Something

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7The One Star

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8Gainful Employment

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9Gardener’s World

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10Apotheosis

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11Oil and Blood

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12Chrome Yellow

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13Beyond

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14Sea Salt

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15A Mole of Sorts

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16Singing Lessons

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17The Needful

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18The Canary Principle

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19Polonius

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20Unfaded

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21Twain

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22Vocations

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23An Encroachment

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24The Book of Names

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25Out There

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26The Perils

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27Teazles

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28The Gate

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29The Literalist

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30The Meeting House

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31The Judgement

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32Cofiwch Dryweryn

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33Epithets

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34Stricken Proverbs

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Books by Jamie McKendrick