No matter how compelling her themes, with their demands of compassion and political conscience, Satyamurti never loses hold of her main topic: the capacity of language. Bernard O'Donoghue, Poetry London
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About Carole Satyamurti
Carole Satyamurti is a poet and sociologist. She grew up in Kent, and has lived in North America, Singapore and Uganda. She published three volumes of poetry with Oxford University Press, of which the first and third were Poetry Book Society Recommendations: Broken Moon (1987), Changing the Subject (1990) and Striking Distance (1994). In 1998, OUP published her Selected Poems. Following the termination of the OUP poetry list, her fourth collection, Love and Variations, was published by Bloodaxe in 2000. Stitching the Dark: New and Selected Poems appeared from Bloodaxe in 2005, and a new collection, Countdown, in 2011.
As a sociologist, she taught at the University of East London, and at the Tavistock Clinic, where her main academic interest was in the application of psychoanalytic ideas to an understanding of social processes, and to the stories people tell about themselves. She contributed to, and co-edited, with Hamish Canham, a collection of essays on the connections between poetry and psychoanalysis, Acquainted With the Night: psychoanalysis and the poetic imagination (Karnac, 2003).
Her poetry has been awarded a number of prizes: she won the National Poetry Competition in 1986; received Arts Council Writers’ Awards in 1988 and 2008; in 2000 she received a Cholmondeley Award, and she was short-listed for a Forward Prize in 2008. Her poetry has been published in a wide range of magazines, and has been extensively anthologised. She is currently working on a verse re-telling of the Mahabharata, which will be published by WW Norton in 2014.
Satyamurti is an experienced performer, and an active participant in the contemporary poetry world though her work as a competition judge and workshop tutor. She has been writer in residence at the University of Sussex, and a visitor in the Creative Writing Program at the College of Charleston, South Carolina. She has also taught regularly for the Arvon Foundation, and for the Poetry Society and, with Gregory Warren Wilson, has run writing courses in Venice and Corfu.
In this selection of recordings made for the Poetry Archive, Satyamurti’s poems are encountered as personable, almost conversational digressions from our everyday surroundings, into ideas that feel suddenly larger than her subjects should allow, triggering philosophical reflections, and sustained meditations on worlds and experiences outside the immediate and comfortable, from the personal cost of illness, to the political and psychological undercurrents of war. Even if the experience that inspires a poem is the apparently unremarkable one of getting onto a bus, or of the contemplation of a hand or a wall, when it comes into contact with her expansive and light-footed imagination, it is quickly caught up in a chain of leaps and speculations; Satyamurti’s joy in the game of equivalences presented by metaphor and language is infectious and rewarding. These poems approach diverse and never obvious ideas pocketed or hidden in daily life – a comparison of the ‘blind spots’ of scientific knowledge, a wry account of the indignities of aging – and are connected by the presence of writer who, while careful and amused, is primarily motivated by a generous and humane curiosity.
Carole Satyamurti’s favourite poetry sayings:
Poetry: the best words in the best order – Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Literature is news that stays news – Ezra Pound
These recordings are from a private CD produced in 2011.