David Swann

Gratitude on the Coast of Death (2017)


David Swann’s debut collection, The Privilege of Rain (Waterloo Press, 2010), was shortlisted for the 2011 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry, and took readers into the tense world of a high-security prison. Now, in this long-awaited follow-up, the writer lifts his thumb and heads out onto the open road. In a host of prize-winning poems, the freedoms and terrors of hitch-hiking are set against the tug of home. Veering between the lanes of elegy and comedy, the exhilaration of European travel and the joys and pains of small town life, Gratitude on the Coast of Death mines the rich vein of Northern surrealism which continues to survive in the post-industrial cracks of our divided nation. Whether set on the wind-blown moors, the ‘wild hills’ of Crete, or in the stifling offices of provincial newspapers, these tender, often funny, poems search for the biggest scoops of these anxious times – the headlines known by the human heart. Late final. Read all about it.

ISBN: 978-1-906742-81-2 Category:

Praise and Poems

Gratitude on the Coast of Death

Because my Spanish was so bad
that I could only say gracias,
I kept offering it up when drivers
stopped at the roadsides to give us
lifts. Gracias when we got in
and gracias when we stopped.
Gracias, señor. Gracias.
What a day that was, the rivers
as wide and endless
as our lives seemed,
and boulders piled under the mountains
like gifts beneath a tree.
Gracias, I said. Gracias.
And the stern driver said no,
these thanks must end
because they were boring –
which made us lean
into each other and laugh
until he chucked us out
on the Coast of Death,
where there was only the ocean
spreading its rumours
over the fields
and we lifted our thumbs
into the silence, ready to follow
wherever the wind blew us.
That was all it took
and all we wanted.
Gracias, señor. Gracias.


Additional information


You may also like…