Winner of both the T. S. Eliot Prize and the Forward Prize, Black Cat Bone is the first American publication of the poetry of John Burnside
Before the songs I sang there were the songs
they came from, patent shreds
of Babel, and the secret
Nineveh of back rooms in the dark.
Hour after hour
the night trains blundered through
from towns so far away and innocent
that everything I knew seemed fictional:
—from "Death Room Blues"
John Burnside's Black Cat Bone is full of poems of thwarted love and disappointment, raw desire, the stalking beast. One sequence tells of an obsessive lover coming to grief in echoes of the old murder ballads, and another longer poem describes a hunter losing himself in the woods while pursuing an unknown and possibly unknowable quarry. Black Cat Bone introduces American readers to one of the best poets writing across the Atlantic.