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About the Poet Vicki Feaver (b. 1943) grew up in Nottingham "in a house of quarrelling women", an emotional inheritance which finds later expression in her poetry. She studied Music at Durham University and English University College, London and worked as a lecturer in English and Creative Writing at University College, Chichester, becoming Emeritus Professor. Her collections have been highly praised, the second, The Handless Maiden, including both the Arvon International Poetry Competition finalist 'Lily Pond', and 'Judith', winner of the Forward Poetry Prize for Best Single Poem. The same collection was also given a Heinemann Prize and shortlisted for the Forward Prize and she has received a Hawthornden Fellowship and a Cholmondeley Award. She currently lives in South Lanarkshire.

It's perhaps significant that both of her major prize-winning poems are narrated by murderous women. A central concern of her work is female creativity and its repression, how, beneath her learnt veneer of niceness, a woman can be seething with passionate hatred or love. The poems negotiate brilliantly between the two realities in a manner Matthew Sweeney has described as "domestic gothic". Feaver includes the stuff of everyday life in her poems - jam-making, gym classes, ironing - but grafts them onto the transgressive power of fairy-tale and myth. These stories of savagery and enchantment license Feaver to explore the desires women aren't normally allowed to express, as in 'Marigolds' in which the hot orange flowers "remind us/we are killers, can tear the heads/off men's shoulders." Not all the poems set the sexes at each other's throats however - there are also celebrations of tenderness and erotic love as in 'Hemingway's Hat' where the opposing principles of the feminine and masculine achieve a rare moment of unity.

Feaver has described writing as a "kind of gutting" and certainly the title of her latest collection, The Book of Blood, would suggest she remains red in tooth and claw. However, her poetry is also highly sensual and inviting, with a tactile quality her Archive reading brings to the fore. The context she provides for many of the poems is also fascinating, whilst making you admire all the more the transformative power of her art.

These poems come from a special recording made for The Poetry Archive on April 11th 2005 at The Audio Workshop, London. Producer: Richard Carrington.
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