Back to Life, Michael Vince

Back to Life, Michael Vince


Back to Life, Michael Vince

ISBN 978-1-869848-33-0, 74 pp.
234mm x 156mm, 21st April 2023.

The first section, ‘Lockdown’, contains poems inspired by photos, videos, and books encountered during the pandemic lockdown. In the second section, ‘Greenwich’, the history and people and places of his home neighbourhood near London compel the poet’s gaze. The third section, ‘Mediterranean’, returns to the poet’s ten-plus years in Greece with poems of memory and history. With almost ode-like formality, Vince’s poems restore breath to past lives. – Kevin Gardner, in Wild Court.


Michael Vince 

Michael Vince taught in Italy and the UK before emigrating to Greece in 1977. He worked in language teaching. He has published poetry since the 1960s in numerous magazines, and collections include: The Orchard Well, Carcanet 1978; Mountain, Epic and Dream, Hunting Raven 1981; In The New District, Carcanet 1982; Gaining Definition, R L Barth 1986; Plain Text, Mica Press 2015, Long Distance, Mica Press 2020, and A Conversation with George Seferis, Rack Press 2022.

Back to Life

The idea of things coming back to life runs through all three parts of this collection. The first section explores the contemporary world of the pandemic lockdown period through interpretations of experiences, many of them limited to photographs and video, others stimulated by reading. This section ends with the return to life of the neighbourhood.

The second section is a further exploration of neighbourhood, with poems which bring back to life people and places, known and lesser known, from the Greenwich area where the poet lives. Some are only street names, others, names lost and often hard to recover. The poems seek to locate different aspects of life in one place, and to make more sense of belonging to that place by a willed recovery of its past.

The final section holds poems written during the author’s decade-and-ahalf spent in Greece, bringing back aspects of this past life, with its personal, political and historical themes.

…most impressive is the sheer ease with which the poetry moves from point to point, from a brief intimate vignette like that of the reader by the lamp to the cosmic vistas of the end. This reflects Vince’s syntactical mastery and depends on another quality too, a trust in his readers to follow implications at their own pace, picking up, for example, the rich hints for reflection in the phrase ‘shaped into desire’, which can be taken in so many directions and responded to in such very different ways.– Edmund Prestwich in London Grip

… he excels at recouping lost memory…

… The troubling idea that the past never disappears, only fades, recurs in Vince’s elegant poems of personal reflection.
– Kevin Gardner, in PNR

…Vince’s easy ability to introduce the familiar into an experience that, to the reader, is otherwise new. Throughout this collection, ordinary objects take on not only meaning but also a kind of emotional heft, the weight of profundity: a British army bayonet, an eighteenth-century Book of Common Prayer, a Kentish marsh landscape. At the height of the pandemic, as silence and stillness descended over cities, the stories told by those objects and places could suddenly be heard.

– Kevin Gardner, in Wild Court


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