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Pam Zinnemann-Hope’s first collection, On Cigarette Papers, was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize and adapted by her for Afternoon Drama on BBC Radio 4, in which she also acted, alongside Eleanor Bron, Greg Wise and Emma Fielding. Foothold is a new departure for Zinnemann-Hope. Beginning and ending with snow, the poems move through the seasons in West Dorset in celebration of the landscape while recording its ecology in a changing climate. There are poems which explore deep time and the tiny place we humans occupy in earth’s history, also poems on the theme of music (the poet’s husband is a composer), of love in old age and of love for a young grandson.
Reviews for Pam Zinnemann-Hope’s Previous Collection:
‘In language that is exact and
without adornment, these carefully crafted poems are utterly believable
‘painfully honest and finely
Reviews of Foothold
The poems are wonderful. They keep such a delicate balance between the visible and the invisible : the precise beauty of the natural world placed alongside misty strangeness of time and age, love and death and the new life of a grandchild.
Her terroir is one she shares, inescapably,
with Thomas Hardy, whose poetry and prose provide epigraphs to the
poems ‘Hawthorn’, ‘Visit’ and ‘Threshold’.
However, whereas Hardy’s territory is overseen by a malign Destiny,
her landscape, with the creatures and characters that inhabit it, is
to be revelled in and cherished at a time of climate change and environmental
stress… This is a book which repays reading and re-reading.
Zinnemann-Hope writes of the various incarnations
of ancient stones with a unique tenderness. Whether they hold fossils,
form walls or shelter lives, she makes them seem alive. To the human
eye they represent time on pause, but they change; infinitesimally “unbecoming” and “becoming” with
each moment. So they allow us a foothold, while showing us we cannot
Everything, it seems, has its own song, its particular
sound. We become attuned to a world in which “a wren’s
call tsipps, like a tiny silver axe…
'The poignancy of 'home' in a family that has suffered decades of brutal displacement - 'I ask for you/ and no-one knows/ the house belongs to us' – is an insistent theme in this remarkable book. The poems pull us into a story that hurtles to its inevitable shattering of lives – and the text slips almost invisibly from English to German and back again in a way that further intensifies a sense of profound dislocation. Home is always somewhere else – even the angels 'speak in German/ faintly, so I can’t quite catch their meaning'. Home becomes something abstract, carried in tokens – letters, recipes, furniture.
Pam Zinnemann-Hope gives us vivid cameos of characters in a family bound by the alienation they all share. They are passionate in their loves and hates, each intensely alive, and from the hinted at horrors of the historical context in which they are trapped, real people emerge. In language that is exact and without adornment, these carefully crafted poems are utterly believable and compelling.'
'I read it in one sitting. It has the pace and scope of a novel, with the attention to language of the best poetry. So many voices and so many stories – each coming to life with such vibrancy and character. I love family stories – as you know – and felt when I put the book down as if I had just been introduced to a whole family and its history. And I had what I also think of as a particular Jewish sadness, though of course it surely isn’t – of nostalgia for a place/time I never knew and now can never know. … As a writer, I often feel the burden of the lost voices/stories of my own family and have been wrestling with what to do with all those stories ever since I finished The Priest Fainted; my father’s Jewish as well as my mother’s Greek. Your book gave me hope – and inspiration.'
Catherine T. Davidson
Poems from On Cigarette Papers appear in NW15, Granta 2007 eds Bernadine Evaristo & Maggie Gee and ‘Stripe’, Templar 2009, et al.
Four ‘Ned’ books, Walker, 1986/7
Who’s In the Next Room?, Happen Stance, 2010, with Paul Hyland, Kate Scott & Catherine Simmonds, from a joint residency for the Poetry Society Centenary, sponsored by the National Trust. A reading of poems from WITNR with Poet in the City at King’s Place, was introduced by Sir Andrew Motion & sponsored by the Sunday Times Magazine. Performances have also taken place at Max Gate & at The Thomas Hardy Society International Conference.
About the Author.
Pam Zinnemann-Hope is also a playwright and children’s author. She won 3rd prize in the Strokestown competition 2010 and an award in the Troubadour Prize 2009. She lives in Dorset with her husband, the composer Peter Hope. In 2001 she co-founded Poetry Dorchester and has been running workshops in and around Dorchester since then. She is an occasional tutor for The Poetry School.
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