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An interrogative collection of astonishing power make up this haunting portrait of place, from the TS Eliot and Forward Prize shortlisted poet, Fiona Sampson

Coleshill, a nineteenth-century model village on the borders of Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, is a microcosm of contemporary rural life. It includes organic dairy herds, prairie fields, community-owned windmills, lovingly-tended vegetable gardens, lamping for hares, a shoot, a Peace Fete, a Neolithic hill fort, a nursery school, a pub and just about the same number of inhabitants – two hundred, give or take a newborn – that it had in the Domesday book.

At the same time its countryside still offers our best chance of observing the natural world. Three different species of ladybird co-exist on a house wall, and the first lapwings return; a spring shifting in the limestone water-table floods the lane, and buzzards nest in the beech trees on Kings Hill.

Coleshill explores the village as both community and place. Coleshill follows the cycle of a year and creates a meditative portrait of real life in the country, bringing the people living there to life.


Coleshill finds Fiona Sampson enduring a term of trial, its rural setting made menacing by present threat, old terrors and the larger unravelling of the environment

Sean O'Brien, Independent

In this sumptuous collection, haunted by fear and a surefooted, hard-won joy, Fiona Sampson celebrates that elusive and most endangered thing: a meaningful sense of place. Reading Coleshill, we are reminded of an essential community with the land, and with all our good neighbours, animals and humans

John Burnside

These poems of place, often troublingly dark, are sui generis in the way they use what's to hand to explore what's hidden. Fiona Sampson's technical subtlety is everywhere in evidence and her emotional range is startling. Coleshill is a book of rare power and depth.

David Harsent

This is Sampson's poetic masterpiece, and a landmark book. She creates intimacy of place through a chamber music of the natural and made worlds, honed observations and epiphanic ‘instrusions’. With its layering of history and presence, Coleshill is a major contribution to the literature of the local.

John Kinsella

A richly rewarding and thematically coherent work, written with an avid attention to light effects, atmosphere, and the natural world.

Suzi Feay, Independent on Sunday

A genuinely through-composed work, one poem opening secretly into another as the imagination endures a period of threat, when the reasonable assurances of ordinary civil life are removed by a sense that anything might happen, or that it already is happening. Given the material, the poet's touch is miraculously light.

John Burnside, Guardian

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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    March 15, 2013

    Chatto & Windus

    80 pages

    RRP $29.99

    Online retailers

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    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    March 7, 2013

    Vintage Digital

    80 pages

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    • iBooks
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    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Also by Fiona Sampson

The Catch
Beyond the Lyric


The Odyssey
In Doctor No's Garden
O Westport In The Light Of Asia Minor
The Asylum Dance
My Alexandria
The Necessary Aptitude
The Horseman's Word
Charles Bukowski
Division Street
Speak, Old Parrot
New Selected Poems
The Mara Crossing
Echoes of Memory
Profit and Loss
A Hundred Doors
New Poems Book One