a lifetime’s freight of words slippery words words across deep valleys devoting a life to words words of help lost words magical words the air full of words words inside a child’s head anchoring words alive with words a serpent’s words finished with words all human words black-lettered words grappling with words all those words that might have been
The poems in Jean Stevens’ latest collection reflect on the joy to be found in words,
working with words, and in managing the nothingness. She revels in their use, at the same time as acknowledging the difficulty of finding words that say exactly what we mean.
There is regret about their use in relationships: a lifetime’s freight of words said and regretted and the weight of words I should have said,along with a wish to share with nature the language vital for living at one with the elements.
Other poems relish the sound of words heard and remembered: Crewe Alexandra, Plymouth Argyle, and an imagined conversation with Sylvia Plath: To hell with men, let’s devote our lives to words, as well as recognising that things said years ago still influence us: that’s not for the likes of you,and lead to a lifetime trying to learn the impossible language.
A new English translation by Christina Les of Kathrin Schmidt’s prize winning novel Du Stirbst Nicht is due to be published early in 2021.
Helene Wesendahl wakes from a post-aneuryism coma paralysed, speechless and devoid of memory. With each re-learned movement, remembered word and returned fragment of forgotten biography, a life comes to light that she scarcely recognises, confronting her with a strange woman who was once herself. Through the awakening heroine’s eyes, we observe her own body (which seems to lead a life of its own as it laboriously undergoes rehabilitation), her fellow-patients, nurses and doctors, the reactions of a complicated family, and the sacrificial commitment of her husband. Helene’s crisis deepens with the gradual realisation that, owing to a passion for a mysterious woman, she was intending to leave this man who now cares so much …
In 2002, halfway through her award-winning career as a writer, Kathrin Schmidt had a stroke and lost her language. You’re not dying is a tale of recovery based on true experience, all the more astonishing for its stylistically dazzling linguistic facility. ‘Kathrin Schmidt is back. Rejoice!’ Wrote Vladimir Balzer in Die Welt. The difficult experience of illness becomes added to Schmidt’s hallmark themes of love, the body, gender and genealogy, historiography and memory.
In 2009 You’re not dying was the triumphant winner of the German Book Prize, pipping to the post the recent Nobel Prize-winner Hertha Muller, who was also shortlisted. Schmidt’s writing career is littered with multiple prestigious prizes for both her poetry and prose.
Schmidt’s writings are framed by her politics. She co-edited a feminist journal in East Berlin in the early years of the united Germany, and represented the United Left faction at round-table discussions at the time of reunification. Before becoming a writer she trained as a psychologist.
• translated into 13 languages – now, at last, into English! • voted Best Book by German radio & TV platform SWR
A haunting book. […] Kathrin Schmidt is back. We can rejoice! Vladimir Balzer, Die Welt
An outstanding, true novel Meike Fessmann, Süddeutsche Zeitung
a stylistically dazzling book Alexander Riebel, Die Tagespost
A great novel about illness, language and identity […] Kathrin Schmidt is one of the most important authors of her generation in Germany. Literaturen
…gets under your skin Helmut Böttiger, Die Zeit Online
Once again, Kathrin Schmidt proves to be a narrative virtuoso Der Spiegel Online
Breathtakingly accurate, Kathrin Schmidt paints the tedious path back into human existence. Neue Zürcher Zeitung
A compelling novel Michael Opitz, Deutschland Radio
a zinger, a humdinger, a fabulous shock of a novel Katie Derbyshire
The poems in Jean Stevens’ latest collection are reflections on our relationship with the earth. They express delight in nature but also lament its loss in the uncertain times in which we live.
There is a longing for more connection: that night in my cage of sleep I dreamt of hares in the wild; and a wish to explore the edgelands between the wild and the tame: something unknown is there in the space.
Other poems express a foreboding that is at times apocalyptic: for three days now there have been no birds. Sometimes the tone is biblical: a voice came out of the mountain. A child’s innocence throws out a lifeline of hope: Maddie’s in touch with the earth, Maddie is running free.
A timely plea for us all to speak to the earth.
These are searching, restless poems, haunted by both darkness and light, by how we damage the earth and how we are forever connected to it. Their yearning for what is tender within us as well as what is wild is both a surprise and a delight. Kim Moore
Persuasive and deeply moving The Yorkshire Times
For Jean Stevens, love, grief, elegy, longing are insuperable states of mind, as natural as the taking of measured breaths
Stevens’ relationship with landscape is existentially-charged, and in Speak to the Earth – a message of love and nourishment to the visible universe – she offers a fitting libation to a natural world which continues to give her comfort in times of retreat and contemplation. Steve Whitaker
Jean Stevens’ previous poetry collections have been warmly received.
Filmic and beautiful, full of warmth and drama Kay Mellor OBE An exciting contemporary voice Daljit Nagra Persuasive and deeply moving The Yorkshire Times A sure hand Ian McMillan
This new collection could possibly be her best yet.
Do Christmas and all the build-up to it affect you emotionally, whether you were brought up in a Christian background or not? As Sue writes,
“Advent was at one time a dour season of prayer, fasting and penitence. For me a distinct melancholy hangs over our grey rainy islands during December’s darkening days. Some people just enjoy the telly and the partying, and others doubtless try to ignore the whole thing. But I think there are also those who, like me, spend the festive season running an emotional gamut. Underlying the commercial clamour there’s a nostalgic sense of loss; a wistfulness – not for how it used to be in Christmases past, but for how it might have been and never really was.
Adventus: the coming. These twenty-five poems reflect on Christmases past and current; on lives lived; on endings of years and of relationships; on beginnings, anxieties, hopes, and an uncertain future.”
Though these poems are perennials, they also serve as daily Advent readings starting from the first day of December.
Naked Eye is delighted to have published this new collection of poems by Sue Vickerman. Read more about Sue Vickerman here.
You can buy a copy of Adventus from Berlin Butike here.
What has been written about Adventus: Brilliant!
…each turned page is a door into a new and fresh surprise
Naked Eye is pleased to publish Jean’s latest collection of poems Driving in the Dark in February 2018.
The poems in Jean Stevens’ latest collection range through everything from a pub on the North York Moors on a black cloaked night, an encounter with a stranger in the dead hours in Soho and jackdaws who come mob-handed, to a reflection on Elisabeth Frink’s ‘The Walking Madonna’, an accident on black ice, a muddy quad bike, and a meeting with Beethoven in Burnley.
Among poems inspired by her Yorkshire Dales home (I’ve fallen in love with the bones of this place … where wind meets wind) are accounts of late love – when you’ve lost your hair, your waistline, your hearing, and your sweating stains the bed, and of quietly desolate loss: I thought I saw and heard you… This is a body of work with a beating heart.
“Jean’s poetry is really moving. It is filmic and beautiful, full of warmth and drama.” Kay Mellor OBE
“Persuasive and deeply moving. Jean Stevens’ great poetic gift is insight. She affords the reader a window on the transcendent.” Steve Whitaker, Yorkshire Times
“I really enjoyed reading the whole of ‘Driving in the Dark’ and would really recommend it. I started reading it one afternoon and couldn’t put it down.” Kim Moore
Naked Eye is pleased to publish David Pendletons’s book Kick-off; The start of spectator sports as the first in its Potted Theses series.
“It is to be hoped that David Pendleton’s wonderfully readable and entertaining vision of a past which remains central to the way we still perceive ourselves, will become a staple of sporting history bookshelves.”
The Yorkshire Times
Kick-off charts and analyses the experience of Bradford in relation to the national development of sport in the modern city and how spectator sport, in particular, helped shape personal and civic identities in a bourgeoning industrial community. What took place in Bradford in the latter half of the nineteenth century was nothing less than a sporting industrial revolution, whose effects remain with us to this day.