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ISBN: 9781876756987
210 x 150 mm
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Valence: Considering War through Poetry and Theory
Susan Hawthorne
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Valence
    in chemistry, the number of bonds in an
    element’s atom
    in linguistics, the number of arguments
    controlled by a verbal predicate
    in psychology, the emotional charge
    something has

In this remarkable annotated poem, Susan Hawthorne commits to words the horrors of war that have been left unspoken. She shatters the conspiracy of silence and dares to draw links between militarism, fundamentalism and the sex industry. She rails against the violence of war and contemplates the link between place and the history of war that is infused into the earth. With a fresh examination of her surroundings, she considers the endless cycle of war that survives on the persistence of hope—hope of an end to war, hope of an end to suffering. This is a hope that Susan Hawthorne does not ultimately share, but her courage in telling the truth about war through her poetry is a gift for readers.
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Valence is a powerful book on a number of levels. It contains a powerful anti-war poem, rich in imagery and history, full of passion and measured anger. It also operates on a more direct level, directly confronting the culture, language and history of war. In the end it doesn’t fit well in Auden’s poetic valley – it is a work that demands to be widely read. Perhaps it should be compulsory reading in the period leading up to the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings.
Mark Roberts, Rochford Street Review
But oh, “undoing hatred is a pilgrimage of hurt . . .” oh yes, and this is what a lifetime of feminism is all about finally, going out to the edge and finding your sisters there. Thank you so very much for this profound work.
Kathleen Barry, author of 'Unmaking War, Remaking Men'
... Hawthorne’s voice is clear, striking, impassioned... As it works its way through its variations on war the sequence moves inevitably towards despair. In the last lines: ‘you dream of light . . . /you sob . . . / because nothing will ‘stop the clot of war’. It’s a hard note to end on. Honest – and hard.
Lesley Lebkowicz, Verity La
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