Winner of the Kenneth Slessor Award for Poetry in the 2020 NSW Premier's Literary Awards.
Shortlisted in the QLD Literary Awards' Judith Wright Calanthe Award
The 2020 NSW Premier's Literary Awards judges noted: "Enfolded in the wings of a great darkness is an extraordinary book-length poem by poet and translator Peter Boyle. The work is a sustained study of life and death, and all that goes on in between. Written during the terminal illness of his partner, Deborah Bird Rose, the book traverses joy and grief in all their shades of dark and light. Boyle explodes the physical and spiritual world around him as he is confronted with the end of life in the one he loves. In this deeply affecting work, he channels the pain and wonder of what it means to live and to be human in a transient world. The form of the long poem is successfully ekes out each word creating a ‘celebratory emptiness’ that throbs with all its possibilities."
'Enfolded in the Wings of a Great Darkness is a journey of sorts; neither linear nor heroic, but certainly profound. It is a struggle between dark and dark. How to interpret the suffering of another, of the Earth, and of oneself? Whereas other poets have found ways to bear witness to telluric presence through language, Boyle is working at the hinge where psychic and material reality meet' Sydney Review of Books
'Undeniably profound, it knits its strength through frailty. It is aware of the mechanics within chance, how it sends out echoes in all directions' (from the QLD Literary Awards judges' comments)
Peter Boyle explains: Enfolded in the wings of a great darkness represents a new departure in my writing. It is a single book-length poem made up of fragments and shorter pieces in varied styles that build towards the last line, which is the book's title. I have aimed at a sparse, open simplicity in this book, a clarity and brevity sufficient to carry the weight of the space I am now in, with my illnesses, my partner's cancer and the acute sense of time's limits. The poems question what it might mean to live and write in the immediate knowledge of death, what response we can find when out of the blue we, or the one we love, are told we have a very limited time, three or five years, to live. At the artistic as well as the personal level, there is also a need for balance in the work, as beauty, tenderness, the presence of the natural world, light as well as dark, insist on their place in the poem. Enfolded in the wings of a great darkness represents a new challenge for me as a poet - the quest for an intensity and clarity strong enough to let simple things resonate, creating poems that are spacious and open. More than in any previous work I have sought to unpack everyday expressions, to probe language, to understand our shared endeavour to come to terms with mortality not as any abstract truth but as it confronts us personally once it enters our life. The construction of a book-length poem of philosophic reflection has required the creation of sufficient space around each fragment to enable it to resonate fully. A poem of this length also needed the development of an energy, a larger rhythm, to carry the reader through to the end.’ Peter Boyle
Peter Boyle is a Sydney-based poet and translator of poetry. He is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently Ghostspeaking which won the 2017 Kenneth Slessor Prize and was shortlisted for the Adelaide Festival Award for Poetry. In 2017 he was also awarded the Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal for Excellence in Literature. Other poetry collections by Peter Boyle include Towns in the Great Desert (2013), Apocrypha (2009) which won the Queensland Premier's Prize and the Judith Wright (ACT) Award, Museum of Space (2004) and The Blue Cloud of Crying (1997) which won the Adelaide Festival Award and the National Book Council (Banjo) Award. Peter Boyle's poetry has appeared in journals, poetry magazines, ezines and books in the United States, Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, Mexico, Colombia, Nicaragua, Macedonia, Germany, Sweden and China. He has presented his poetry at International Festivals in Colombia, Venezuela, France, Canada, Macedonia, Nicaragua and El Salvador. His poems have been translated into Spanish, French, German, Macedonian, Swedish, Vietnamese and Chinese. As a translator of poetry from Spanish and French he has had six books published. His translations of poetry by José Kozer, Marosa di Giorgio, Olga Orozco, Eugenio Montejo and René Char, among others, have appeared in anthologies, magazines and journals in England, the United States and Australia. Recent books as a translator include Jasmine for Clementina Médici by Marosa di Giorgio and Poems of Olga Orozco, Marosa di Giorgio, Jorge Palma (2017), and Índole/Of Such A Nature by José Kozer due out in April 2018 from University of Alabama Press. In 2013 Peter received the New South Wales Premier's Prize for Literary Translation. Peter has recently completed a Doctorate of Creative Arts at Western Sydney University, focussing on the relationship between the tradition of heteronymous poetry and poetry translation.
Peter Boyle, Enfolded in the wings of a great darkness
2019. 148mm x 210mm. 82pp.
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.