Daring in their candour and acute in their observations, the poems in Kin cross between human and nonhuman realms with no sense of chasm or rift. As with Hare, Hugh Dunkerley's previous book, we emerge with fresh awareness of the kinship we share with other creatures, focused here by closely observed moments in the experience of fatherhood. Seen through Dunkerley's lens, it's visceral, intense, life-changing, and light years from that cold abstraction, 'paternity'. To me, Hugh Dunkerley's poems are essential reading, both for pure lyrical pleasure and for the hands-on wisdom that derives from such a needful poetics of care.
Hugh Dunkerley's work has always been lit by a precise and vivid awareness of the scope of life on earth. Here, that ecological eye is put to the test of viewing the most intimate and humanly affecting things—birth, ageing, death, the loss of hope… Far from either frame of reference being diminished by the encounter, in these poems both are enriched by it.
Kin probes fatherhood, masculinity and mental health from an array of insightful angles. It poses urgent questions around the ethical complexities of nurturing whilst celebrating, too, the unexpected renewals it can bring. These truthful poems hit home because their speakers engage fully with what it means to be vulnerable, to be anxious, to be one human among many.
Hugh Dunkerley's achievement in Kin is to weave together science and personal experience to create poems in which one illumines the other and vice-versa… In all these poems, there is an emotional honesty and accessibility that makes them deeply moving.
Hugh Dunkerley is Reader in Creative Writing and Contemporary Poetry at The University of Chichester, where he runs the MA in Creative Writing. He has a particular interest in environmentalism and ecocriticism. His chapbook, Walking to the Fire Tower (Redbeck Press), came out in 1997 and Fast (Pighog Press) was published in 2007. His first full collection, Hare came out in 2010. Vicki Feaver said of the collection:
What I admire about Hugh Dunkerley's poetry is the spareness and clarity of his language: his ability to tackle the extremities of experience — death, sex, loss, the ruthlessness of nature — with a vision which is unsentimental and yet profoundly moving.
Hugh also writes articles on contemporary poetry as well as reviewing for various magazines. His new collection, Kin, will be published in 2019.