Tikki Tikki Man by Caroline Carver

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Tikki Tikki Man by Caroline Carver£8.99 £7.49 inc. UK pp
Release date: January 2012
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Cover of poetry book Tikki TIkki Man

Trade: Central Books

author picture of caroline carver


Tikki Tikki Man is Caroline Carver’s 4th collection and the first to be published by Ward Wood. It tells the story of how two children deal with the after-effects of child abuse, as their lives take them from Jamaica to Paris, to Scotland and eventually the Canadian wilderness.

being Bluebeard
means submarines     doors clanging shut
sonic booms      furtive night messengers
means  sealing of fire  water   wind   
reduction by earth and its dark shovels
watch out man    I see you slipping in and out
of corridors     look like rats got your face

'The vivid landscapes, real and imaginary, that these poems economically evoke, are never simply an exotic backdrop. Rather, their beauty and their ambiguities weave the reader into an unsettling, unsentimental vision of how childhood can be damaged, exiled from itself and finally, cautiously, returned to its place in the world. This is difficult material, delicately done, all the more powerful for its sure and subtle touch.'

Philip Gross

'The poetry of Caroline Carver's Tikki Tikki Man is spacious and at home in many landscapes. Its content is troubling, its beauty redemptive. It leaves the reader with a sense of the world as a larger, and warmer, place.'

  Alison Brackenbury


'… a stunning collection. I completely lost myself in the world you have created.'

Dr Catherine Walters, Lecturer in Applied Linguistics, Oxford University

'Varying Landscapes, Jamaican, French, Scottish, Canadian and legendary, become the merging sites of innocence and exploitation after a grieving father entrusts his children to an abusive friend. Carver's imagistic poems with their fragmented yet rhythmic lines form a compelling narrative, bold in its multi-cultural transitions which, for a lesser writer, might lead to dilution instead of intense emotional surprises.'

Stephanie Norgate, Poetry Review, Summer 2012

'It is hard to know where to start this review; her collection is like nothing else around. It tells the story of two children on the road to recovery after suffering abuse at the hands of the Tikki Tikki Man, '- perhaps when I’m grown up' says Maia “I’ll stop remembering.” At one point when the Tikki Tikki Man goes back to his ship the children tell us

'we wrap our guilt into small bundles
hide them in cupboards
hope cockroaches will find and eat them.'

At times the images are violent as the children try to deal with their pain. Maia “hacks at the hair which reaches to her waist / tears it from her head till her scalp’s bleeding” because she is told, with hair like that, “someone’s going to rape you”.

It is disturbing without being overly explicit; it’s also menacing and heart-breaking. Carver’s language is measured; every word has its place and impact. Within this cruel world Carver still manages to capture the beauty and light of landscapes, “I longed for autumn / so I could gather up mushrooms / put them to dry on the tops of saplings” and tells us the children’s dreams:

'Maia says she dreams of the wolf
trotting the height of land     like a warrior king

he’s made from the earth    he’s part of the earth
he’s a family man   he has his tribe close by'.

Tikki Tikki Man is an astonishing read.'

Abegail Morley

'…We walk the world with this poet through the immediacy, wit and assurance of her language…'

Penny Shuttle, re Caroline’s last book, Three Hares, published by Oversteps 

'Caroline Carver has the gift of transforming real and imagined experience, from all parts of the world, into a rich, coherent poetic mythology. She is a subtle and always-seeking alchemist.'

DM Thomas

Author Biography

Caroline began writing poetry in the mid-1990s, and won the National Poetry Prize with a poem about killing a shark in 1998. Since then she has won or been placed in many competitions, winning the prestigious Silver Wyvern Award from Poetry-on-the-Lake in Orta, Italy and the first Guernsey Poems On the Buses competition. She was Commended in the 2010 National Poetry competition.

Caroline Carver was born in England, brought up in Bermuda and Jamaica, finished her education in England, Switzerland and France, and then emigrated to Canada for 30 years. Since she returned to England she’s travelled widely with her poetry, and was part of a reading tour of Ontario and New York/New England three years ago, in company with poets Penelope Shuttle and Victoria Field. She’s a Hawthornden Fellow, resident poet at Trebah Gardens and very active in poetry affairs in Cornwall.

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