Maggie Sawkins

The House Where Courage Lives (2022)



The House where Courage Lives compassionately addresses concerns that haunt us all, not just at this time of gathering global threat, but existentially: isolation and freedom, hope and despair, the ways we fill our time. Central to Maggie Sawkins’s delicately wrought collection of poetry and prose, elegy and drollery, narrative and spiritual verse, is the question asked of Quarr Abbey monks: ‘Why did you come, why did you stay?’

ISBN: 9781915241047 Category: Tags: ,

Praise and Poems


It’s impossible to be alive
and to fake stillness

as if a stone had taken
possession of your mind.

It’s impossible
to drain black thoughts

like blood from a burr hole
in the brain.

Everything is rowing back
to that first stark lake

of unknowing. Even this
stone, even this poem.


Sometimes wryly humorous and never predictable, Sawkins’ riveting and intense new collection speaks of numinous longings, the dangers and attractions of hope, and the need to gather strength from the world around us. This searing poetry encompasses the history and losses of the Irish diaspora, while a universalising backdrop of sea, sky, hill and river creates an emotional landscape of past family sufferings and more recent tragedies of drowning, homelessness and the virus years. Throughout, Sawkins interrogates solitariness while singing of the need for contact. The poems movingly celebrate the communal whether it be a community of monks a reunion of local searchers for a missing man, or a drunken work party.  The mysterious relations between parents and children haunt the book, offering a desire for true communication, for a making whole again.   – Stephanie Norgate

Sawkins brings to life what Ted Hughes calls ‘the goblin in a word’.  – Mark McGuinness

A distinctive and beguiling voice.  – Vicki Feaver

The taut writing carries emotional weight and sends shivers up my spine which tells me I am reading real poetry.  – Myra Schneider


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