Proof of Identity

Neil Powell


We send all orders via Royal Mail: within the UK, choose from 1st Class, 2nd Class or Special Delivery; for the rest of the world, International Standard or International Tracked. Delivery and packaging charges are calculated automatically at the checkout.

To collect orders in person from the Bookshop, choose Click and Collect at the checkout.

Carcanet Press Ltd
23 February 2012
ISBN: 9781847770950
68 pages

From the publisher

Neil Powell's seventh Carcanet collection explores the deep roots of identity: family histories we inherit, memories we carry, the casual decisions and wrong turnings that add up to make us who we are. 'Do you mean to say you've married / an apprentice fitter and come all this way?' an official asks the poet's grandmother who, trusting to luck, emigrates to a new life in South Africa after the First World War. An ironic and grateful presence, Powell observes the lives that he inherits. Perspectives shift with time: an old photograph shows his mother 'more beautiful and happier than I remember her', his father 'looking for once the statesman he should have been'. At the heart of the book is a compelling narrative based on a journal kept by Powell's grandmother of her life in South Africa: a feckless husband, a 483-mile trek with horse and covered wagon, violence and poverty. There's also a shorter, teasingly fictional narrative and a sequence about the life of a grand piano. Other poems deal with childhood, leaving home and first love; a park in Kent and a wood in Suffolk; an old photograph of the Strand and Louis Armstrong's first solo; the London bombers of 2005; and, finally, two old friends recalled in very different elegies. Meditative, wry, melancholy and celebratory, this is Neil Powell is at his most versatile and memorable.