In her new collection, Katherine Gallagher draws on a rich inheritance from her different worlds: Australia, Britain – particularly London – and France. Her subject matter ranges widely: travel, exile, returning, change, nature, war, family, illness, love, loss, death and childhood experiences, always rooted in a passionate sense of discovery and attention to place. She juxtaposes a mix of colloquial and more formal verse-styles to evoke immediacy and feeling with impressive clarity and freshness of voice. Lyrical and politically-tuned, her poems range between moments of deep feeling and satire, laced with an often wry humour veering towards the surreal.
Many of the poems take the traveller as theme – 'traveller' in the widest sense, linking Gallagher's personal experience to the universal and showing the juxtapositions and layers to be discovered behind the seemingly familiar as well as the unknown.
She has a great fascination with the natural world, its vibrancy and colour – expressed in moments of wonder and unease, as in her poems on environmental themes and in the eclectic sequence, 'After Kandinsky' with which the collection concludes.
Her reflections on people draw in the multifariousness of everyday experience with wit, irony and elegance. Circus-Apprentice is an engaging, distinctive collection notable for its variety and seriousness, its adventurousness with word and image, and its sometimes understated, but sharply telling, content. Gallagher's poems combine candour and tenderness, humour and dark moments to tremendous effect.
Circus-Apprentice is Katherine Gallagher's fourth full-length collection of poetry.
"Katherine Gallagher... has an impressive clarity and freshness of voice. Her poems... are well-honed, musical, and the light touch in her lines betrays multi-layered depths..."
"...a generous and accomplished collection with a wide range of sympathies and concerns. ... poetry informed by courage and grace."
Her poetry has the nostalgia that accompanies all those who leave their homeland for another chosen one, but, wherever she is, Gallagher becomes the close observer of both the personal and the natural world. She is indeed a nomad of the planet and of the word. Her poetry is unique in its apparent simplicity, in its disarmingly unassuming voice, its ability to evoke both the painful and the joyful, in its courage and tenderness. Every individual has a country of the mind through which they wander at various stages of their lives; for Gallagher her country of the mind, her true and perhaps only 'home' is poetry.
In her new collection, Katherine Gallagher draws on a rich inheritance from her different worlds: Australia, Britain - particularly London - and France. Her subject matter ranges widely: travel, exile, returning, change, nature, war, family, illness, love, loss, death and childhood experiences, always rooted in a passionate sense of discovery and attention to place. She juxtaposes a mix of colloquial and more formal verse-styles to evoke immediacy and feeling with impressive clarity and freshness of voice. Lyrical and politically-tuned, her poems range between moments of deep feeling and satire, laced with an often wry humour veering towards the surreal.
Circus-Apprentice, 2006, ISBN 1-904614-02-7. £8.09Circus-Apprentice can be ordered from Arc Publications
Quotes and Reviews
— Lyn McCredden, Australian Book Review, May 2007
"Prayers answered..., [this book] quietly restores my faith... it has been written by a woman who has travelled. ...[there is] worldly-wisdom, real life experience, a sense of her having lived. ...more
— John Mingay, Stride Magazine, March 2007
"What's it like then?" Isn't that the question you ask when someone has mentioned a poet you've not heard of? You wouldn't expect them to give you the hushed lips sign and send you a review in the post; you'd prefer it if they enticed you there and then by encapsulating the qualities on show in a few words. ...more
— Adrian Buckner, Poetry Nottingham 61/2, Summer 2007
Gallagher has been writing poetry for a long time and has learned her craft well. There is maturity and control in the writing and she can find an apt image. ...more
— Frank Dullaghan, Seam 27, Autumn 2007
Circus-Apprentice is perhaps at its best when responding to, or writing in terms of, light. She seems to me best as a poet of surfaces (which is not the same as being superficial) — but what surfaces they are, dazzling and radiant, seen with a painter's eye and articulated in language full of passion and painterly texture:
I am in love with its brazenness: Ferocity that opens up the sun... ... hedge-fire, this harvest I revel in, where gold is traversed by sun and the thicket locks me into birdsong. ...more
— Glynn Pursglove, Acumen May 2007
Admirers of Katherine Gallagher's previous collections will welcome the strong, resourceful and varied poems of her fourth full-length collection, Circus-Apprentice, as will readers new to her work. ...more
— Penelope Shuttle, Second Light Newsletter
Last Sunday I carted an awkward tray of potted ranunculi and a hairy fern across London by bus. My surreal view of the moving urban landscape through the stems and flowers — as if a mini-garden were flying along the streets — put me in mind of the other leaves I have been carting around London in my bag over the last month: Katherine Gallagher's Circus-Apprentice. ...more
— Ian Henderson, King's College London
... Katherine Gallagher has an aesthetic purity which combines introspection with an outward focus. Gallagher's longer verse layers narratives, like 'Keeper', which opens with the question, 'You want me to be a lighthouse keeper? Fine. ...more
— Rowan B. Fortune-Wood, The Personal to the Political, Envoi 149, February 2008