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Christina Thatcher

More than you were

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'a lyrically-stunning, yet unapologetically raw exploration of loss...Thatcher is an exciting new voice in poetry.' – Natalie Ann Holborow

A Poetry School Book of the Year

Shortlisted for the Bare Fiction Debut Poetry Collection Competition judged by Andrew McMillan


She said there must be a link 
between feathers and fathers  
Told me she’d plucked 
a slim one from her hair 
the day after her father hung
himself. It was brown with flecks
of white, no doubt from a pigeon
on Albany Road. It was him,
she assured me. He always liked 
to make an entrance.


Lesson #1

The day she severed
the head of a snake

with the toy shovel
I used in the garden
she turned to me
and said – quiet and strong – that
in order to protect
our family we must sometimes do
unfair and gruesome things.

When David Thatcher died of a drug overdose in America, his daughter wrote to understand what came after. The result is a striking collection of poetry which explores addiction, family politics, childhood memories and grief.

The short, sharp poems home in on situations to reveal their complex relationship and the challenges she faced after losing him. Thatcher weaves the darkest memories – the murder of pets, the burning down of a childhood home, the blood stains on white tiles – with ones which betray a tenderness and love.

A brave debut, More than you were, explores what it means to lose a father to an addiction and live on.

Praise for More than you were

'More than you were navigates the private and public legacy of grief, violence and trauma.  Poised between the spareness of the lyric and the complexity of narrative, the poems contained within these covers need to be read in one sitting.  They are painfully honest, full of wisdom and always beautifully observed.'— Kim Moore, a Geoffrey Faber Prize Winner and author of The Art of Falling  

'More than you were is a lyrical, risky, moving depiction of the cross-currents swirling through a father-daughter relationship, and the love-work of bereavement. Christina Thatcher’s intense, honest elegies build a compassionate portrait of blood and history’s lessons, the damages of addiction and how poetry and memory can be both lacerating and healing in the same breath.' —Robert Hamberger, award-winning poet and author of six collections 

'This defiant, engrossing depiction of a father and a daughter makes for an extremely accomplished poetry collection. Not only is Thatcher far, far more than he was, but she also generously portrays him as he was in his entirety: bad, good, and all that came in-between.' - Sophie Baggott, Wales Arts Review

'The taut, terse poems of More than you were hold true to the promise of the book’s title. Poet Christina Thatcher builds an elegiac refuge of plain-spoken memories for a father whose drug abuse imprints her life with entrapments, betrayals and loss. Yet that is not all and all is not lost. The window through which his life is viewed opens onto the poet’s ever-widening horizon, which, in spite of the shadows, blazes with the bright light of gratitude for her father's fierce love.' —Carla Drysdale, author of Little Venus (Tightrope Books) and Inheritance (Finishing Line Press) 

'An absolute gutpunch of a book. By which I mean that it tackles its subject matter – grief, coupled with and complicated by issues of addiction and family dysfunction – with incisiveness, empathy and a poetic perception that is as sharp and disciplined as it is feeling and skilful…Thatcher’s eye is impeccable for poetic incident and detail and her carefully weaned language and considered style throws this into beautiful and brilliant relief, even as Thatcher delves into the oddity, horror and warmth that can all accompany grief.' – Rebecca Roy, Pushcart Prize Nominee 

'In More than you were, Christina Thatcher's precise, economical poems translate a complex father-daughter relationship, paradoxically delivering a rounded account of familial love and the impact of lost possibilities. Grief is documented in unflinching terms whilst the bereaved author finds novel ways to grow resilience in a raw world.' — Claire Williamson, Programme Leader, MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes, Metanoia Institute 

'The music of More than you were sings from every page: generous – but never mawkish – in its sharing, the self-awareness, strength and humanity work like a welcoming; like a door opening onto experiences that spoke to me with honesty and tenderness. This is a brave and beautiful book and I feel wiser, and more kind, for having read it.' – Lisa Matthews, former Royal Literary Fund Fellow and author of three poetry collections 

'The poems in More than you were are brutally concise, often no more than several short lines or a single sentence, each standing on the page as spare and sharp as a lightning rod in a snow field. These poems are direct, honest and simple, made thoughtfully with regard to their function and form, creating an elegeaic, plainspoken style that lends a quiet intensity to Thatcher’s exploration of grief and addiction. Nothing is wasted, or superfluous: every single poem pared down to its ‘decisive moment’ (to borrow a phrase from Cartier-Bresson). Thatcher also understands intuitively that often we respond most powerfully to what is not being said or specified, and as such every single poem is given its own page (and never has the empty space around a poem ever carried quite so much emotional freight). Were Thatcher less of a storyteller, and had less of a story to tell, the poems would probably be too flimsy; as they are, they are meticulously studied, gutsy, deliberate, long-lingering aperçus of lost lives (not) lived. Some poets tell it slant – Thatcher trues the slant and sharpens her pencil with it.' – Will Barrett, The Poetry School

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 a number of publications including The London MagazinePlanet Magazine, And Other Poems, Acumen and The Interpreter’s House

Thatcher grew up in America but has made a happy home in Wales with her husband, Rich, and cat, Miso. She is a teacher and PhD student at Cardiff University where she studies how creative writing can impact the lives of people bereaved by addiction. Christina keeps busy off campus too as the Poetry Editor for The Cardiff Review and as a freelance workshop facilitator and festival coordinator.


To learn more about Christina’s work please visit her website: christinathatcher.com or follow her on Twitter: @writetoempower.