Tag Archive for: Linda France

The Knucklebone Floor is partly a verse biography of Susan Davidson (1796–1877), who spent thirty years landscaping and developing the grounds of Allen Banks in Northumberland, including woodland, paths, rustic bridges and a summer house with a knucklebone floor. It is also a book about boundaries and wilderness, fragility and resilience, flora and fauna, people and places, then and now, women and men, the human world and the natural world. Richly and formally inventive, it offers a collective perspective of history, identity and ecology at a time of global fragmentation and ecological crisis.

Cover image: Matilda Bevan, Study of a Stream, Allen Banks (2018)

Source: Smokestack Books

Linda France’s galvanising tenth collection comprises poems written from, and into, the fabric of the sixth mass extinction. In this uncanny, yet deeply familiar world, beginnings end and endings begin, and we are tasked, as readers, to think beyond the limitations of our perception and enter the throes of deep, geological time ‘where glaciers / once scarred the rock, inscribing their own fall.’  Here, we leap across histories both real and imagined – from the medieval book of hours to a twenty-first century Climate Citizens’ Assembly – and experience the inter-connected nature of emergency.

Rooted in fieldwork and close observation, the collection calls for a rewilding of the self as well as the landscape – a momentous task, that, France demonstrates, can only be achieved through tenderness: whether as an octopus mother dissipating into food for her young, or with the gentle patience of a gardener. Ultimately, and crucially, Startling offers a radical manifesto for kindness, utilising poetry to refresh our individual and collective imaginations, and bring about a necessary shift in cultural consciousness that counteracts the paralysis of alarm – before it’s too late.

As the poet astutely asserts: ‘who of us / is ever ready?’


Purchase Startling at Hive online bookshop