‘All I see is her bare feet on the deal stairs, her face,
when she sees the world turned white, turn towards
our two faces to ask, ‘What did you do?’ — as if we
might be able somehow to account for all that beauty.’
Midnightstown, Tom French’s third collection opens with the poet alone with his newborn son in a delivery room. Through what North described as ‘a heartbreaking quality of understatement’, he confronts and stares down extreme experience and praises the everyday. An oncology diary is simultaneously dispassionate and moving. In language of calm power he registers a brother’s suicide and fraught relationships. He offers glimpses of a battle in World War I, while other poems observe saplings as they prosper and actors preparing a play. They record incidents in barbers’ shops and salvage materials from old newspapers.
Tom French is a custodian of family and local histories, a caring, careful celebrant of ‘our loved and unloved, living and dead . . . the rest of the road home, the night ahead.’
Publication date: 28 May 2014
Available to pre-order