A KING'S BONES
Imogen McHugh is a poet from Norwich, England. A King’s Bones is her first published book of poetry. In 2021 she was featured on BBC Radio 4’s 'New Frequencies' programme. In her spare time, she enjoys making art and annoying her friends with facts about life in medieval England.
"The discovery of Richard, Duke of Gloucester’s remains beneath a Leicester car park is itself a bizarre addition to Shakespeare’s partisan caricature. Imogen McHugh’s ‘A King’s Bones’ will have little of the medieval demi -devil and a great deal of human frailty, compassion and pain. This Richard knows how to love, how to lose, is caged inside his body and his political role, manly but not inhumane. His language is a hybrid of the majestic and the vernacular, gathered in loose pentameters, often with Shakespearian resonance. But always more sinned against than sinning:
‘as plants curl towards light away from darkness,
I began to curve in upon myself’ (Skeleton)
The immediacy and bewilderment of the protagonist’s voice gives flesh and blood to the bones, gaining depth and range throughout the sequence, finally engaging the reader in an empathetic pact:
‘Far below I lie, an acorn curled in peacetime,
I am content to tell my tale over and over,
to the clay-like earth, to my bones.
To you.’ (King of the Car Park II)
This is a bold adventure, trusting in language to communicate difficult, sometimes paradoxical truths, to locate the shifting past in the present. I would need to reach for Geoffrey Hill’s iconoclastic reconstructions to find anything like this living tableau of historic injustice. Some pedigree!" Peter Pegnall
In "A King's Bones," Imogen McHugh unearths the honest prayers of a man coronated and paved over. She humanizes the notorious king by exploring his enduring faith, family loyalty, and chronic pain. She writes "Hail Mary full of grace, / I have my sins, counted like notches in a spine / not a holy man but I have loved God wholly ... "
'A King's Bones' ISBN 978-1-913329-76-1
Paperback, 148 x 210mm, 32 pages
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