In Spills Angela Leighton combines poetry, memoir, libretto, short story, prose-poetry and translation, slipping between genres while hearing the conversations between them. ‘You start from who you are, and walk and walk’, she writes, in the spirit of free-voyaging that defines this collection. The prose tells, semi-fictionally, of the poet’s life as the daughter of a composer-father and Italian mother, a life split between languages and places, north and south, often among curious and memorable characters.
The poems address related themes of place and language, war and peace, the landscape of southern Italy and the Christian story of the Passion. The conversations between different forms and motifs are a result of Leighton’s approach to writing almost as a strain of musical composition. The writing is often about music, but it is also a search for music in writing.
The collection closes with a significant new body of translations and adaptations of the Sicilian poet Leonardo Sciascia, Spills’s luminous other voice, ‘seeking its own heart of music’
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