Ian Parks

The Exile’s House (2012)


Since his emergence through the Rumoured City generation of Hull poets in 1982, Ian Parks has arisen as a major talent. Younger than they, he came to prominence just after the publication of that anthology; but the sensibility feeds into his poems about the miner’s strike where he bears telling witness and, with sinewy front-line narratives, runs a serrated edge through the picket lines, the drafted-in policeman who knocked him down. It set him up but didn’t define him. More even than Tony Harrison this poet evolved a style that took engagement, personal loss and (as The Landing Stage generously showed) a close connection to Eastern European poetry.

Parks has an affinity with stripped-out politics and snow-whitened landscapes and, unusually, places human warmth within them. More unexpectedly, there’s a telling, almost mystical delivery of such moments — an alienation that recalls Swedish poets such as Ekelöf and Boye. Parks is an important British poet but will be read far more widely.

Read extracts from The Exile’s House

ISBN: ISBN 978-1-906742-43-0 Category:

Praise and Poems

A real poetic gift: pure poetry written as though coming ready-made from outside him.
John Powell Ward

Parks has an acute and intense sense of place which he manipulates for additional dimensions in his descriptions of love, loss, history and desire.
Anna Robinson

Ian Parks has an instantly recognisable voice: spare, lyrical, memorable and intense. Whatever subject he addresses — historical, political, romantic — he transforms through the sheer force of his poetic identity. He is that rare thing among his contemporaries, a poet with something to say and a distinctive way of saying it.
Donald Davie

This is a poetry which is universal, profound and as natural as breathing.
David Cooke

Mill Bank

Incongruous in your cocktail dress
you walked out from the wood.
Children playing under the stone bridge

were startled for a moment then went back
to wading through reflections, spools of
And there you were – black-laced,
diaphanous –

stepping over stones and tangled roots,
uncertain in your city shoes.
The place had been important once:

a mill, a mill-dam and a packhorse track
that led us up and over a sheered bank.
I stopped myself from picking out

the brittle bits of branches from your hair.
Then, as we climbed the steepest hill
away from the complexities of shade

past chapels, stacked-up houses, dry-
stone walls
I had no words to match the randomness
Of what had happened or was happening.

Incongruous in your cocktail dress
you seemed to be the spirit of the place:
encountered, not forgotten, always there.

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