A powerful second collection from the acclaimed English poet
Dammtor is the old city gate and now the centre of ground transport for the great port of Hamburg. In James Sheard’s second collection it is a ‘station for midnights, hitched up on stone legs, hollow with sunken light’ – a hub for the damaged and deracinated. These precise, wounded poems draw the reader through this desolate landscape – through sexual longing, sexual violence, bereavement and the beginning of hope through the birth of a son.
Dammtor restlessly narrates the condition of maleness, looking for truth and music in a voice which is both urgent and unadorned. The poems are spoken in solitary places – late-night stations, hotel lobbies, car rides and empty woodland – but they are addressed to the living, the missing, the dead and the just-born.Personal and political narratives leak into the spaces of the poems to form a strange light which has something of the hallucinatory clarity of translations. The voice might be by turn elegaic, vicious, obsessive or bewildered as it explores its topic, but it is accompanied by an eye which will not – or, perhaps, cannot – blink. Finding tenderness amid brutality, Dammtor is a highly accomplished and remarkable collection.
“Scattering Eva is an ambitious and exhilarating collection. James Sheard can manage both scale and intimacy, governed by a fine ear, in language both rich and chaste. Combining love, politics, history and belief, Scattering Eva quickly takes up residence in the reader's imagination. Sheard is also something of a rarity - a manifestly European poet working in English. Not to be missed.”
“These poems burn with life and feeling. James Sheard is an eloquent writer whose linguistic verve is offset by short, spare lines and a sombre musicality.”
“His language has the acid precision of a drypoint, perfectly servicing the difficult ambition of its subject-matter with images that made me catch my breath.”
“James Sheard at his best is a strong, and already much-praised poet... He has a powerful, almost mythic sense of political struggle.”