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book cover with images of blue house by the shore and a print of a 19th century railway cutting

photo of Michael Vince

Long Distance, Michael Vince Paperback, 78 pp. ISBN 978-1-869848-25-5. £8.99. 29 Oct 2020.

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Video of Michael Vince reading from Long Distance

The poems in Long Distance combine ideas of the sense of distance which exists between past and present, between separate lives in geographically separate places, and between people in relationships. People may live in different places but be linked together or live in the same place and be parted by their feelings or their experience. The main settings are a London suburb and contemporary Greece, but also include the New Forest and Anglo-Saxon England. The section ‘Camberwell’ concentrates on the suburb, and a variety of ways in which connecting with the past can make such a place a home, by re-imagining people and events which exist as recoverable sub-strata. Other poems broaden these themes. A set of love poems, ‘Long Distance’, is placed in a real contemporary world, but one woven with threads of myth and their presence in personal relationships. ‘Bookland’, another group of poems, explores the continuing meaning created by events, objects or places. Finally, the complexity of the various themes is contrasted in ‘The Ordinary’ by simple everyday experiences. In our new condition of ‘social distancing’ these poems explore ways in which we are more connected than we might imagine, to the past, to the imagined present, and to other versions of life.

'Vince’s entrancing new collection bridges past and present, the remote and the immediate. Yet remoteness is made present through his gripping, even startling scenes, the accessibility of his language, the control of formal elements, and the reworking of pastoral tradition.'

'It’s impossible not to be stirred by his assessment of ‘ease on the edge of ordinariness / where it touches the matters of the soul, the mystery / of our coming and going’. This mystery is at the heart of this seasoned poet’s pensive and subtle collection.'

;                     - from a review by Kevin Gardner, in PNR

'Vince appears committed to the idea that poetry should present itself objectively, however personal and subjective its inspiration. So what seem to be personal poems are both vivid and profoundly reticent. Emotions are created by sound and sharply focused images. In this way, although Vince uses regular metre and avoids Poundian fragmentation, he has strong affinities with Modernists like Eliot and the Greek Seferis.'

'...most impressive, though, is the way he uses images to concretely distil emotion, as in the last lines of his celebration of love in ‘A Voyage to Cythera’, a Greek island sacred to the goddess of love:

I watch you stoop, pour out water, hold out your hands,
and a happy cat leaps for delight, a simple motion
of being in love with more than being in love,
while the goddess turns in sleep on the hill and longer
shadows soothe us as we climb back home together.'

                          - from a review by Edmund Prestwich, in The North

“Vince’s poems are filled with lovely resonant images …. [his] eye for telling detail brings that world alive ….

Vince’s music is quiet and unassertive, yet always real, its rhythms constrained and buoying the lines....”

                   – Ian Pople, reviewing Michael Vince's previous collection, Plain Text, (Mica Press, 2015) in The North.


For history, biography and more poetry, see this publisher's other imprint, Campanula Books