Independent poetry publisher Nine Arches Press is to publish Heath, a new book written in collaboration between poets Penelope Shuttle and John Greening.
The press holds global rights to the title.
The series of detailed poems explore the ancient common land of Hounslow Heath – site of the proposed third runway at Heathrow which has been both controversial and central in national debate over the last decade. A decision was due about whether a third runway would go ahead this summer, but it has been pushed back following the UK voting to Brexit last week and whilst the Tory Party leader electionsare held.
In Heath, Greening and Shuttle’s series of interlinked poems wander the heath and consider the conflicts of modern life, of finding equilibrium between the advantages of travel and the benefits of trade, and the continuing desecration of the natural landscape.
As discussion continues between government, aviation authorities, climate change campaigners and local residents about the third runway, both writers have created a "striking and pertinent" poetic response that moves between Heathrow’s past, present and future, as they cross and re-cross the heath. Eco-poetics and natural history, as well as the mix of folklore and a time-travelling approach to history (everything from the Brinks-MAT robbery of 1983, to Dick Turpin and the last wolf in England) make this book a "rich, rewarding and unusual exploration of one the prime environmental and political issues of our times," the publisher said.
In addition, there is a personal connection at the heart of Heath, as both poets were born and raised within sight and sound of Heathrow, and the collection draws on their memories of growing up under the flight paths of the airport.
The collection is a key title for growing poetry publisher, Nine Arches Press, and has already drawn acclaim from fellow poets and writers, including Anne Stevenson, who commented: "Read these poems and you will never tread the proliferating wasteland of Heathrow Airport without being grateful for this warm, sprightly, thoroughly entertaining introduction to its rural past.”
Poet Alison Brackenbury said of the book: “Although Hounslow Heath barely exists today, Penelope Shuttle’s and John Greening’s poems conjure back its lost acres, returning to roots”.
The book will be launched with a special performance by both poets at the Ledbury Poetry Festival on Friday 8th July at 6pm.