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Amanda Sewell The Appropriate Country (2001)


ISBN 1-902731-11-5


Vivid and real, jerky and elliptical poems

Alan Ross, London Magazine

These are intriguing, compelling poems

Neil Astley, Bloodaxe Books

Poems of quality

Les Murray, Quadrant

Everything that I like in poems: simplicity, lucidity and sensitivity - like my favourite Chinese poets - Wang Wei, Tu Fu and Li Po

Graham Ackroyd, Nineties Poetry

Writing since childhood, she was encouraged to publish by writers as diverse as George MacBeth, M. L. Rosenthal, Jonathan Raban and Stevie Smith. More recently she has been championed by Les Murray, the late Alan Ross, and Malcolm Bradbury.

This debut collection, spanning over thirty years, charts her development from the inlaid marquetry of her early work, raised to a voice more bumpy, tangy, flexible. It shelves precipitately from the exquisites of Brighton living: 'From within this wooden little coffin/crammed with childhood: one acid pencil/green as a boiled sweet, had my name/engraved upon it like an orbituary.' And plunges to:

  Let me decipher your body's alphabet,
  the perfect H of frame and limbs
  and eyes of mid-Atlantic grey
  that pull me down to the deep sea-bed
  of gasping, air-less longing to escape.
  Like the pages of unopened Vogue,
  your body smells of innocence and crime -


Amanda Sewell was born in 1945, the daughter of a distant graphologist who kept in touch by writing, and a mother who kept in touch. When a month old she went to live in Hamburg, where her father worked for the Foreign Office. Things could have turned bland. Brought up by others, abuse was de rigeur - thoughtfully pummelling her into a poetic character.
She escaped to grammar shcool via that stock-in-trade, the wonderful 11+ teacher, and began to exercise demons in small magazines just as she was educated at the University of Birmingham and East Anglia.

After a career in Fine Arts working in the V&A and Paul Mellon Foundation, her sense of catalogue raisonnés began to shape her life.

Amanda Sewell's appearance in book form has been awaited for over three decades after multiple appearances in the London Magazine.

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