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About the book
  • Published: 15 November 2009
  • ISBN: 9780224090056
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 96
  • RRP: $27.99

The Asylum Dance




The finest book yet from one of Britain's most important young poets.

Lucid, tender, and strangely troubling, the poems in The Asylum Dance – which won the Whitbread Prize for Poetry in 2000 – are hymns to the tension between the sanctuary of home and the lure of escape. This is territory that Burnside has made his own: a domestic world threaded through with myth and longing, beyond which lies a no man’s land – the ‘somewhere in between’ – of dusk or dawn, of mists or sudden light, where the epiphanies are.

Using the framework of four long poems, ‘Ports’, ‘Settlements’, ‘Fields’ and ‘Roads’, the poet balances presence with absence; we are shown the homing instinct – felt in the blood and marrow – as a pull to refuge, simplicity, and a safe haven, while at the same time hearing the siren call from the world beyond: the thrilling expectancy of fairground or dancehall, the possibilities of the open road. With a confident open line and complete command of the language, John Burnside writes with grace, agility and profound philosophical purpose, confirming his position in the front rank of contemporary poetry.

  • Pub date: 15 November 2009
  • ISBN: 9780224090056
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 96
  • 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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