Keeping Mum

Overview

Keeping Mum is the latest book of poems in English from Wales's bilingual virtuoso. It is a psychiatric detective story which explores the effect of a dying language on its speakers and looks at how abuses of language might lead to mental illness. Her investigation begins with a police interrogation, then broadens to take in a mental hospital, where the subject is questioned by a psychiatrist. Finally she uncovers angles in a sequence of sonnets, finding messengers from another realm inside our everyday lives, ...
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Overview

Keeping Mum is the latest book of poems in English from Wales's bilingual virtuoso. It is a psychiatric detective story which explores the effect of a dying language on its speakers and looks at how abuses of language might lead to mental illness. Her investigation begins with a police interrogation, then broadens to take in a mental hospital, where the subject is questioned by a psychiatrist. Finally she uncovers angles in a sequence of sonnets, finding messengers from another realm inside our everyday lives, speaking to us through depression and bereavement. Usually Gwyneth Lewis writes one book in Welsh, then a completely different one in English. Only Welsh-speakers get to see how both sides of her work express the dual personality of her country. Ruth McElroy has described how Lewis's books mark 'a shift into a different gear of Welsh poetry of both languages...she is one of very few poets to be equally probing and technically sophisticated in both languages...intuitively sensitive to the peculiarities of each'. Keeping Mum started out as a translation of Gwyneth Lewis's last Welsh book, Y Llofrudd laith or 'The Language Murderer', but took on a life of its own. The plot, characters and location have been completely recast in English. 'The detective story is as much a structure as a requiem, and we may see that patterns and structures are themselves themes in her poetry. It is at once a religious and a scientific fascination, not with the structures and patterns that explain or console, but with those that mystify and make strange' -- Patrick McGuinness, London Review of Books
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781852245832
  • Publisher: Bloodaxe Books
  • Publication date: 10/1/2003
  • Pages: 64
  • Product dimensions: 5.52 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.18 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface 9
A Poet's Confession 13
What's in a Name? 14
Mother Tongue 15
Farm Visit 16
Home Cooking 17
Small Holding 18
'My father was distant ...' 19
A Past 20
Her End 21
Aphasia 22
Brainstorming 23
Lifesaving for Psychiatrists 27
Consultant 29
Dissociation 29
Early Days in Psychiatry 30
Finding the Bodies 31
Tongue Fetishist 32
A Teenage Craze 33
Therapy 34
A Promising Breakthrough 35
Spread a Little Happiness 36
A Talent for Fainting 37
Psychiatrist, Twitcher 38
A Question 39
Panic Attack 40
Seaside Sanatorium 41
Night Passage to Nantucket 42
The Perfect Crime 43
Memorial Service 44
What They Don't Teach You in Medical School 45
Retired Psychiatrist 46
1 Pagan Angel 49
2 Tarot Angel 50
3 Fire Angel 51
4 Angels of Stage and Screen 52
5 Minimal Angel 53
6 Angel of Depression 54
7 How to Read Angels 55
8 In Memory of Katherine James 56
9 Angel of Dying 57
10 Angel of Healing 58
11 The Good, the Bad and the Complex 59
12 Christ as Angel of the Will of God 60
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