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About the book
  • Published: 15 August 2011
  • ISBN: 9780224093859
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 80
  • RRP: $27.99

Black Cat Bone


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John Burnside’s remarkable new book is full of strange, unnerving poems that hang in the memory like a myth or a song. These are poems of thwarted love and disappointment, of raw desire, of the stalking beast, ‘eye-teeth/and muzzle/coated with blood’; poems that recognise ‘we have too much to gain from the gods, and this is why/they fail to love us’; poems that tell of an obsessive lover coming to grief in a sequence that echoes the old murder ballads, or of a hunter losing himself in the woods while pursuing an unknown and possibly unknowable quarry.

Drawing on sources as various as the paintings of Pieter Brueghel and the lyrics of Delta blues, Black Cat Bone examines varieties of love, faith, hope and illusion, to suggest an unusual possibility: that when the search for what we expected to find – in the forest or in our own hearts – ends in failure, we can now begin the hard and disciplined quest for what is actually there.

Full of risk and wonder, Black Cat Bone shows the range of Burnside’s abilities, but also strikes out for new territories. He remains consistently, though, one of our finest living lyric poets and each of these astonishing poems is as clear and memorable as ‘a silver bracelet//falling for days/through an inch and a half/of ice’.

  • Pub date: 15 August 2011
  • ISBN: 9780224093859
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 80
  • RRP: $27.99

About the Author

John Burnside

John Burnside is amongst the most acclaimed writers of his generation. His novels, short stories, poetry and memoirs have won numerous awards, including the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the Whitbread Poetry Award, the Encore Award and the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year. In 2011 he became only the second person to win both the Forward and T. S. Eliot Prizes for poetry for the same book, Black Cat Bone. In 2015 he was a judge for the Man Booker Prize. He is a Professor in the School of English at St Andrews University.

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Praise for Black Cat Bone

“Burnside's inward eye has never been clearer, his poetic voice never more plainly lovely.”

Candia McWilliam


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