Elizabeth Diamond is a prize-winning poet. She had a pamphlet and a collection published when she lived in Hertfordshire and regularly read her poetry in London. She took an eighteen year break from writing poetry to concentrate on prose, which culminated in two-book deal with Picador for her first novel, An Accidental Light.
Eight years ago, she returned to her first love, poetry. Voices is the result of that return.
Praise for ‘Voices’
What a rich anthology, and such a coherent one. At its heart, Voices is an unafraid, evocative witnessing of lives, and the summoning of ‘voices’ from those lives. Diamond makes no distinction between the living and the dead; all of them speak their stories. Part 1 is a sequence of poems about the Titanic; even the iceberg and the ship have words to say. The second, longer section spans outwards from this discrete, traumatic episode in history into different historical periods, generations and countries, but returns repeatedly to what we imagine to be the poet’s own stories of people loved and lost. These poems take us into difficult emotional landscapes, but the potency of human relationship across centuries and generations is evoked with equal power and sensitivity. Voices takes us into redemptive territory; however on the edge we are in our lives, our capacity to love never fails us.
A deeply moving collection………. Diamond frequently redeploys that first person device, drawing you in so effectively. You become Bertha Mason, you are trapped on the roof of Grenfell Tower, you are the nemesis iceberg…
Ian Royce Chamberlain
Work from ‘Voices’
I found my way into her secret places:
the hold, the mail-room. The steerage cabins
where the lesser people stayed. I lapped around people’s legs.
Rose higher and higher, until I covered their faces, crept
into mouths and noses, stole the air from their lungs.
When I took her, sucked her inside me,
it was because I loved her: her palatial decks,
glittering ballrooms, gleaming wood and chrome;
the glint of sapphire and diamond in the jewels
her passengers wore. All that is mine now.
She has laid herself open to me, to my salt tongue,
my explorations. I have dulled her glitter and her gleam.
Broken her precious things. Turned her polished wood
to stone. Scattered her jewels over the seabed
where she lies, beached, dreaming of the brief
flutter she had with life.
My father’s bony large-knuckled hands
contorted into animal shapes.
A snapping crocodile; a jumping dog;
something nearly like a bear.
He flicks out the torch.
Only darkness between us now
and the tension created by
his desire to kiss me good-night
and his ill-ease
with all the usual shows of love.
‘Nite Bet,’ he says.
‘Don’t let the bed bugs bite.’
He leaves the room and a moment later
I hear him moving about downstairs
and in the darkness a wave of something
I don’t understand.
Sorrow? Loneliness? Something else?
I pick up the torch
he has left on the bedspread,
shine its ghosted light
upon the bedroom wall.
My seven year old hands dancing
in silhouette, trying to re-capture
the shapes he made.
But like my father’s love,
I shape a crocodile with a broken jaw;
a dog too listless to jump;
something not at all like a bear.