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Christina Thatcher

How to Carry Fire

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'In the brave and moving poems of How to Carry Fire, Christina Thatcher writes powerfully of the things that love can survive. This book has lived a life, and the poet has the ability to shape experience into unforgettable writing. I admire it for the way it looks big problems full in the face, and comes back with a store of beauty. This is a poet with her own world, who is shaping an important body of writing. Just as, in the collection's exemplary opening poem, a family tries to itemise its losses, so these significant, memorable poems add to the store of the world's treasures.' — Jonathan Edwards

'Christina Thatcher’s glorious second collection How to Carry Fire sets the bar for any poet hoping to write about the binds of trauma, proving herself both a master of linguistic charge, and a powerful storyteller. These are poems that say it like it is – life can be tough, but it can be beautiful too; presented to us in carefully tapered, often devastating snapshots of a world only she, the poet, has lived through, yet we’re able to witness to their fullest and deepest effect. Indeed, there are many grave areas of exploration, but not without the steadfast presence of hope. This collection both condemns and praises the immovable binds of family, hardship, and love, expertly handling the substances that have haunted an immovable past to shape a dazzling array of poems both remarkable in their ingenuity, and raw, unforgettable honesty.'  Helen Calcutt 

'Christina Thatcher writes with the lucent purity of someone who has been cracked open by loss, from the child whose job was ‘house canary’, ever primed and ‘ready for the ransacking’, to the adult survivor who loves ‘like the horse chestnut loves carbon’. By turns visceral and soaringly beautiful, these poems of brokenness, hope and fierce tenderness will find their way under your skin and lodge themselves inside your heart.' Janet Lees

'In her collection How to Carry Fire, Christina Thatcher gives a searing answer: it is to be scarred, moulded but ultimately transfigured. These are fine poems that transform past trauma, through the alchemy of poetry, into work that is both powerful yet infused with fragility.' Caroline Smith

'These poems burn with the heat of creative paradox: a past that evokes nostalgia and pain; loved ones who are heroes and victims; a sense of self that is strong and vulnerable. Each poem is a tongue of flame that sears and cleanses. Thatcher's stunning second collection blazes a trail through the agonies and joys of human relationships in a voice that is terse, tense and urgent.' Robert Walton 

'A father is lost, a brother is swept up into opiates, a new life begins across an ocean, a marriage blossoms – How to Carry Fire journeys from eastern Pennsylvania to Cardiff, Wales in an intimate, steady-hearted, and welcomed testament to the physical, as well as emotional, distances that are so often necessary to make sense of our pasts and free up our futures.' William Brewer 

'Exploring familial love and fragility with a beautiful precision only to be found in poetry; this bisected bonfire of a collection blood-sings with humanity: holding it may well singe your sleeves. A devastating book that I could not put down and will read and re-read.'Lisa Matthews 

'Thatcher’s poems can be nostalgic and delicious in their visualisations…In these echoes of capturing, cradling, holding — Thatcher suggests that the speaker’s temptations aren’t drugs, or fire, but deeply-felt connections, touches, and caresses. There might never be enough.’ Poetry London

How to Carry Fire was born from the ashes of family addiction. Beginning with the burning down of her childhood home, Thatcher explores how fire can both destroy and cleanse. Her work recognises embers everywhere: in farmhouses, heroin needles, poisonous salamanders. 

Thatcher reveals how fire is internalised and disclosed through anxiety, addiction, passion and love. Underneath and among the flames runs the American and Welsh landscapes – locations which, like fire itself, offer up experiences which mesmerise, burn and purify.  This poignant second collection reminds us of how the most dangerous and volatile fires can forge us – even long after the flames have died down.

Shortlisted for the Bare Fiction Debut Poetry Collection Competition in 2015 and a winner in the Terry Hetherington Award for Young Writers in 2016, Christina Thatcher’s poetry and short stories have featured in over 50 publications including The London Magazine, Planet Magazine, And Other Poems, Acumen and The Interpreter’s House. Her first collection, More than you were, was published by Parthian Books in 2017.