> Skip to content

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.

Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback

    9780224090056

    November 15, 2009

    Jonathan Cape

    96 pages

    RRP $34.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • Paperback

    9780224059381

    June 15, 2000

    Jonathan Cape

    96 pages

    RRP $27.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781446412268

    December 1, 2010

    Vintage Digital

    96 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

Also by John Burnside

Still Life with Feeding Snake
Ashland & Vine
I Put a Spell on You
All One Breath
Something Like Happy
A Summer of Drowning
Burning Elvis
A Normal Skin
Swimming In The Flood
Black Cat Bone
Waking Up in Toytown
The Hunt in the Forest
Glister
Gift Songs
A Lie About My Father
The Devil's Footprints
Selected Poems
The Good Neighbour
Living Nowhere
The Light Trap
The Locust Room
The Dumb House

Recommendations

The Necessary Aptitude
The Horseman's Word
Charles Bukowski
O Westport In The Light Of Asia Minor
In Doctor No's Garden
My Alexandria
Young Eliot
Division Street
The Poets' Daughters
Speak, Old Parrot
Coleshill
Strange Meetings
Tennyson
New Selected Poems
The Mara Crossing
Echoes of Memory
Handwriting
Profit and Loss
A Hundred Doors
Poems