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“Suffused by the warmth of its writer, these poems take you by the hand and lead you through a liminal space where even the harshest loss and hardship is bathed in a transformative light, leaving you holding your breath and poised on the cusp of wonder. Laced with an at times Lily Brett-esque sense of humour, these are poems to which you’ll find yourself returning time and again, won over by their irrepressible buoyancy of spirit and implicit hope…In short, this is a collection that simultaneously seduces and impresses, engaging both our hearts and minds with its luminous intelligence.” from Denise O’Hagan‘s launch speech
The poems of Magdalena Ball’s The Density of Compact Bone are utterly visceral, sometimes temporal, but never quite ephemeral – lines will ring out in waves inside the mind long after the final page has been turned. These poems are not only haunting, but haunted: by the sense of something undetermined gone missing and also by what is known to be lost. These are poems explored through the body; internal, intimate and yet filled with paradigmatic shifts: from personal grief to global keening, from the blurred landscape of raw human feeling to the clear data of exacting scientific analysis. Apocalypse is rife here, but this collection moves beyond a dissection of our end times. These poems are intelligent – at times almost mordantly so – meticulously crafted and ontologically restless, yet somehow Ball’s humour, unassuming warmth, and varied musings on the movement of birds, the colour of planets or the buzzing of bees, leaves the reader feeling as though they have been gifted a potent balm for the relentless wounding ubiquitous here in the Anthropocene.’ – Ivy Ireland
“What a gift The Density of Compact Bone is!…I don’t read poetry quickly, and love reading out of order, so I haven’t read it front-to-back yet, but what sinuous rhythms and what invocations found between its covers…I adore those rivulets of white that wend through ‘drawdown’ and ‘Fire Cloud’—like water, like gasps.” ~Michelle Hamadache
‘This, the poet’s fourth, collection is rich and rewarding, humorous, clever, and verv much poetrv for our times.’ ~ Siobhan Black for Dreich Magazine
‘In The Density of Compact Bone, Magdalena Ball stuns with her elegantly constructed paean to earth, sky, water and her requiem to loss, both ecological and personal. Luxuriating in finely crafted imagery of plant and bird life and intimate personal portraiture, this poetry collection teems with meticulously sculpted syntax, skilfully assured language choices and masterfully wry, wistful, wishful wisdom. From the atomic to the astronomic, the poet bears heart-aching witness to our “hardwired to self-destruct’ “neon excess”. A love song to beauty and loss riddled with existential questions and shattering observations, blending mystery, myth and metamorphosis, this work is both organically inventive and ingeniously self-aware.’ – Anne Casey
“She finds resilience in Jewish family history, and looks unflinchingly at the climate emergency. Her poems cast their net wide in the cosmos and bring tiny, meaningful things to light. There are riddles that, as far as I can tell, have no answers; there are love songs, laments, cries of pain, excursions into quantum physics and meditations on the nature of time. That is to say, this book is quite a ride.” Jonathan Shaw (full review at Me fail? I fly!)
‘“Begin with tears. There will not be enough”, Magdalena Ball starts the poem “How to make Lokshen Kugel”, an apt metaphor for so many of these apocalyptic poems that address the trials that time presents to us. It is Ball’s response to these challenges that is truly breathtaking. As she concludes the poem “Mitzvah”, “Your voice carries. / You are setting yourself free / you are free.”’ – Charles Rammelkamp (full review at London Grip)
‘Magdalena Ball’s poems are replete with images and symbols and sometimes pictorial representations of our guilt and desires. Her poems sometimes sing of the extinct creatures who breathed their last to question us for our inhuman actions, nature and its “objective correlative’ in poetic diction. Magdalena Ball captivates her readers with cogitations on dreams, failures, moments of joy and despair, contemplations of serious existential truths and quest for the same. Her poems transport us to a land of ecstasy, the parabolic pathway of moving away and returning to the same trajectory of existence with a new promise or at least a complacency of some kind, or just a sense of well-being. Her poems are a must-read!’ – Ketaki Datta, (full review at The New Book Review)
‘I was sad when I finished reading the book, not because of its content it was because it had come to an end. I could not put the book down, I read it without breaks. Each poem impacted me in one way or another and I am embarrassed to say that a couple of times a few tears rolled down my face. The Density of Compact Bone will grab readers and take them like on a magic carpet to places known and unknown, it will lead them to thinking and imagining, to seeing themselves reflected in the poems. I am sure they will enjoy every poem, every sentence, every line…’ ~Beatriz Copello (full review at Rochford Street Review)
‘Building on her book High Wire Step, Magdalena Ball’s The Density of Compact Bone is a lovingly crafted flowing picture of the inner life, the motherly voice flowing through the world like atoms. It’s different this time in that there’s more a sense of the frail health of the cosmos, the mud turtles in AKA present in extinction, the microbes that colonise the body green pinwheels and lilac violet, a wrestling between the human body and the laws of physics in Time is not and tomorrow’s box is quantum, the presence of ancestors in transmission, all of them feeding into a certain discomfort of the body a ray of light a twitch at the small of the back all the time feeding into a lullaby, a humming in the head- how memory and the danger of the earth feed palpably into our bodies and minds. Some of the elegies later in the book like pogrom or alloy usually hardened have the dead still present in our bodies and impulses. As a writer of elegies myself, I admire this. I love grandma’s lokshen kugel, something full of smell taste and nourishment she leaves behind. It’s not easy to summarise Ball’s poetry quickly- poetry is good at examining the borders of memory, the laws of physics, dancing at the border of a black and white instamatic. She certainly finds the matters that go beyond prose. This is an immensely thought provoking and stimulating collection.’ ~ Charles Freyberg
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