Andrea Holland

...blood in the lies he

                        tells all the punters:

                        the bullies, the scared

the careless as smoke,

the scarred and the self-made

millionaires: a pair

of losers to divide you

between them          

 

                        Fourteen dollars in the post

 

to your mother

who cannot add it up.

— from 'Svay Pak Mathematics'

 

Andrea Holland is a lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia and for the WEA. Andrea was named winner of the 2012 Cafe Writers Norfolk Commission and her collection, Broadcasting, was published in spring 2013. She has poems in magazines including Mslexia, Rialto and The North and is a reviewer for Poetry Review.

 


Reviews

'Andrea Holland’s work is intelligent, graceful and poignant...the quality of experience in it is universally humane, the form precise and necessary, the perception original, the language sharp, on a knife-edge.' — George Szirtes

'What holds [these poems] together is a questing intelligence, a self that feeds on art and literature and autobiographical experience to create poems that are not only vividly observed but also interesting and moving.' — Vicki Feaver

'Andrea Holland understands all the parts have to cohere to make a complete poem. These pieces are clearly written by someone who loves poetry and has a keen ear for sounds and movement... these poems contain an intelligent grace.' — Happenstance

'(Borrowed contains)...very focussed, emotionally wrought (and) more intellectually playful poems... Holland's work seems defined by the curiosity of a mind returning to itself, familiar with its ticks and motifs. Her voice is calm and lyrical, sincere... but never simple' — Poetry London 

'Borrowed's sixteen poems are wide-ranging, connected by their concern with art, music and literature - and by their curiosity and intelligence' — New Hope International

I have been writing poems since about age 15 but it wasn’t until I took a writing workshop at the State University of New York, while on the BA in English, that I realised how much writing meant to me. The feedback/criticism was hugely motivating and led me from undergraduate workshops to an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Massachusetts. The rigourous criticism from tutors and peers provided me with skills in editing as well as improving my poetry. And that’s why my writer’s group is so important to me – we are a small group of published poets (Bloodaxe and Faber poets alongside Smith/Doorstop) and although we only meet every 6 weeks or so I still find the constructive criticism and mutual admiration for poetry of all kinds keeps me inspired and always impressed with the wonderful things good poets can do on the page.

The poets and poems I return to have changed over the years, but I never get tired of reading Walt Whitman, Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath, and Carolyn Forché. Individual poems by W B Yeats, Frank O’Hara, Mark Doty, Kathleen Jamie, Billy Collins, Don Paterson are also on the list of favourites.

As winner of the Cafe Writer’s Norfolk Poetry Commission my most recent collection of poems,Broadcasting, was published by Gatehouse Press in 2013. The poems focus on the war effort in Breckland, West Norfolk, when in 1942 the residents of four villages and nine parishes were given little more than two weeks to leave their homes to make way for D-Day training. The poems are a kind of social-history, considering the effects of the requisition and subsequent dislocation on local residents, including Lucilla Reeve, a remarkable woman who refused to leave her home until MOD tanks forced her to move from her farmhouse to a chicken plucking shed on the edge of her estate.

 

On 'Borrowed'

My first collection, Borrowed (2007) takes some inspiration from other works of art and literature (Barbara Hepworth, Egon Schiele, John Smart, Diane Arbus, Keith Arnatt, as well as the Bad Plus Trio’s version of a well known Nirvana song!) But the central, long poem in the collection, Solitude: the library book is formed of thirteen dates of issue which I took from the issue page of a library copy of Henry David Thoreau’s ‘Walden’. The first time the book was borrowed was in March 1974 and the last date before I borrowed it (in Summer 1999) was October 1993. On those thirteen dates I imagined what might have been happening, principally in Virginia (where I was living in the 1990’s) but also in my memories of the UK on those dates in the 1970’s and 80’s. But the poem is also informed by my understanding of Thoreau’s ideas about solitude, learning as I was in 1999 to live on my own after the end of my marriage.

 

 

Titles by this author

  Borrowed
Borrowed
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