A Clearance by Fiona Wilson
These poems explore the meaning of place in a world of full of change.Â Freely mixing Scots, Standard English and American slang, they create their own idiom to demand “a change of address.”Â History collides with personal experience, popular music with balladry and hymns.Â The literary past crosses into the present. Robert Louis Stevenson is encountered first in Edinburgh, then later “sloping down Broadway.” A fragment from a Burns poem meets a conversation overheard on a cityÂ bus.Â From the hills of Arran, to the streets of New York,Â A ClearanceÂ is about the near and the far, and the everydayÂ miracleÂ of contact.
â€œâ€¦ A mysterious guest who has never outstayed her welcome. Now, in A Clearance, there is a clear sense of just how substantial a poetry Wilson has been writing â€¦â€
â€”Richard Price,Â Times Literary Supplement
â€œIn this long-awaited and masterful debut, Fiona Wilson gives us astonishing andÂ uncommon poems that may have emerged from the Scottish and American traditions butÂ can be found somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic, while her readers come â€˜to theÂ edge of a questionâ€™ by either shore. Wilsonâ€™s formal brilliance is all worked through withÂ chagrin, wit, and modesty.
â€œThe mind at play in these poems is thrilled, distracted,Â enchanted by the feeling of words in the mouthâ€” the gray wet velvet of â€˜mizzle,â€™ theÂ scandal of â€˜cramasieâ€™â€”and by slips and turns of phrase, which she turns over like stones,Â like coins, as they become talismanicâ€”to console, perhaps, as if the secret toÂ transformation were to be found in language itself.â€
â€œChanneling birdsong, the hum of rivers, â€˜the mad shush / of soundâ€™ from the HighlandsÂ to the Hudson River, Wilsonâ€™s poems are gorgeous and perfected distillations.â€
â€”Maureen N. McLane, â€œSeven Poets on the Vergeâ€
â€œWords that trigger other words â€“ an electrifying personality without ego; free-spirited;Â free falling; a voice never heard before â€“ true to herselfâ€” Fiona Wilson. I not only readÂ this book, I studied it, rearranging the written elements so I can see how she doesÂ itâ€¦Page after page, simple, elegant, and new.â€
â€“Grace Cavalieri, Washington Review ofÂ Books
â€œFiona Wilsonâ€™s A Clearance is a stunning and highly original collection of poems thatÂ reminds us of the beauty and complexity of our human relationships. She does this with aÂ lyric intensity that is softly muted by her good sense and gift for analysis. These are theÂ poems of one who is wistful and wise and altogether brilliant.â€
â€”Sonja James, TheÂ Journal
â€œAnd what a fine debut it is. Wilsonâ€™s work is intense yet expansive, particular but not overly self-involved. Thereâ€™s plenty room for humour, too. Wilson delights in teasing multiple meanings from words in a manner that is fitting and controlled; she seldom goes for the cheap pun.
â€¦ Furthermore, the poems have a largeness of spirit and an inventiveness that goes beyond introspection.â€
â€”Kevin MacNeil, The Bottle Imp