allison mcvety | lighthouses
Poetry Ribbon




Publisher: smith|doorstop
ISBN-13: 978-1-906613-89-1
March 2014
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In Lighthouses, Allison McVety casts a light over the world, finding variety and coherence in for instance a man grafting in his shed; the new moon’s pull on a love affair; Emily Wilding Davison hiding on Census Night, a mother as a listening telescope and Amy Hopkins falling to her death for a comet.

Virginia Woolf dips in and out too, through her diaries and essays, with her ‘charcoaled stare’. And there are quiet poems too: sat at bedsides when ghosts and love, like the keeper’s light, are never far away.


"Allison McVety’s third collection is built around her National Poetry Competition winning poem, ‘To the Lighthouse’, an account of the poet’s revisit to Woolf’s text after her mother’s death. Lighthouses, then, is a book of new clarity and revelations, mothers, fathers and ghosts of the past. McVety’s talent is for sensuous detail, meticulously crafted moments and a grasp of rhythm that makes her work begin to read like memories of your own. Prize-winning poems aside, this collection is packed full with beacons of light."
PBS Bulletin

"Lighthouses is a superb, energisingly ambitious collection showing McVety’s gift for transforming the everyday into superbly beautiful, moving poetry."
Katherine Gallagher, ARTemis

"The poems in the collection are united by McVety’s attempt to explore what ‘everything big’ might include. Essentially, this is the journey described in ‘Hedging’ as the passage ‘from bud / to grieving’. The scale on which the poet identifies such loss is impressively vast. It encompasses the First World War, a Cornish mining disaster, pandemics, and also individual tragedies such as those of a girl who fell to her death whilst comet-watching in 1910 and of Margaret Larney, sentenced to be executed for filing coins in 1758. Yet McVety never allows the sadness to overwhelm her reader. Instead, she uses loss to throw into relief moments of intense vitality. "
New Welsh Review

"Poems are brilliantly original, pinned to the page precisely yet dynamic in their exploration of human vulnerability, ambition and desire, the frictions, fascinations, faiths and pains of love, and sometimes they offer a tender penetration of intimacy almost painful to read. Where other poets are heavy metal, she is Mozart."

"Allison McVety has always written exemplary backstreet poems... But through her three books, [she] has developed a transformative vision of everyday life and ‘Lighthouses’, the title poem, presents a bigger picture than the domestic... Those wanting vintage McVety are not let down by the large vision of this book; as the title suggests, Lighthouses is as much about houses as light."
Poetry London

"These poems are at their most impressive when they are least wary of saying too much."

"Lighthouses will consolidate her reputation as one of the most interesting, and significant, contemporary English poets."