> 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

  • The Asylum Dance
    John Burnside

    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