There is a Chinese proverb that says: ‘It is more profitable to raise geese than daughters.’ But geese, like daughters, know the obligation to return home. In her exquisite first collection, Sarah Howe explores a dual heritage, journeying back to Hong Kong in search of her roots.
With extraordinary range and power, the poems build into a meditation on hybridity, intermarriage and love – what meaning we find in the world, in art, and in each other. Crossing the bounds of time, race and language, this is an enthralling exploration of self and place, of migration and inheritance, and introduces an unmistakable new voice in British poetry.
Loop of Jade (Chatto & Windus, 2015)
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Winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize
Winner of The Sunday Times / PFD Young Writer of the Year Award
Shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection
Shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Poetry Prize for First Full Collection
A 2015 Book of the Year in the TLS, Observer, Independent & New Statesman
‘Rich and fierce, Sarah Howe’s poems are alive to the complex stories and voices that cohere around objects, family and place. This is a magnificent collection, surprising and moving in equal measure – I loved it.’
~ Edmund de Waal
‘A wonderful first collection – it isn’t often you can say exquisite, original, erudite and adventurous all in one breath. Sarah Howe goes to the very heart of her own, her mother’s and China’s recent past.’
~ Ruth Padel
‘Sarah Howe's soulful poems are as vivid as a river flowing through the Chinese landscape, as alive as mothers calling to their children.’
Read a sample poem . . .
Listen to an extract . . .
Read about the story behind the book . . .
Press: Loop of Jade
‘One of the very best books of poems I have read for a long time — complicated and moving and very accomplished’
‘Thoughtful, agile, erudite. . . [Howe] has a knack for sound and rhyme so delicious you want to say the lines aloud just to feel your tongue around them. And sprinkled throughout are minute observations that make the everyday seem magic. After reading Loop of Jade, the world seems larger and more nuanced than ever before, one of the most wonderful experiences Iíve had reading a contemporary poetry collection. Howe more than holds her own among the heavyweights in a memorable year for new poetry, a year in which poets took our accepted ideas of race, heritage and tradition and blew them wide open.’
‘[P]oems of such sustained depth, maturity and beauty that it is hard not to be convinced of her genuine and lasting talent’
‘[A]n ambitious and erudite debut (one poem references Homer, Roethke and Horace), exploring the poetís Chinese heritage in supple, inventive lines.’
‘Loop of Jade is one of the best first collections I've read in recent years.’
~ William Wootten, Poetry Review
‘[T]he poems in Loop of Jade . . . move me in profound and previously unimaginable ways. ’
‘[A] sinuous, shimmering, mirage-like debut collection. . .’
‘Absolutely amazing. . .Sarah Howe's Loop of Jade shone with its startling exploration of gender and injustice through place and identity, its erudition, and powerful imagery as well as her daring experiment with form. She brings new possibilities to British poetry.’
‘[A] significant literary talent, a very special writer indeed.’
‘Howe is a poet who sees through things, both revealing whatís underneath, and using the barriers to sight to imagine a clearer picture. Her vision is one I think utterly necessary in British poetry now.’
‘Her range is vast ó from early imperial China to the aftershocks of Tiananmen to the case of Pound, jailed as a traitor in Italy, starting to write what became known as the Pisan Cantos. . . This is a dazzling debut whose impact will most likely be fully registered only after some years.’
More reviews & essays on Loop of Jade
Dave Coates, Dave Poems
Kate Potts, Poetry International
George Jackson, Ambit
Peter Gordon, Asian Review of Books
Gail Low, Dundee University Review of the Arts
Victoria Kennefick, Wild Court
Roy Marshall, The Compass
Charlie Place, The Worm Hole
Eric Karl Anderson, The Lonesome Reader
Both heart-breaking & clear-eyed.
~ Dave Coates
Sarah Howe’s debut offers great range – a series of poetic endeavours which nourish and reward. Some of the work here reflects her dual heritage – in one longer piece, she describes travelling to China and Hong Kong to trace her mother’s roots. She also offers imagistic shorter poems and edgier forays into more experimental terrain. She is a poet of place, from the limited landscapes of bed to the grand vistas of exploration.
A Certain Chinese Encyclopedia (Tall-lighthouse, 2009)
‘Sarah Howe has, in her terms, “crossed the imaginary line” between the personal and the political, between the Occident and the Orient . . . between the real state of arrival and the dream state of pursuit.’
~ Daljit Nagra
Hwaet!: 20 Years of Ledbury Poetry Festival, ed. Mark Fisher (Bloodaxe, 2016)
Eight Hong Kong Poets, ed. Peter Gordon & David McKirdy (Chameleon Press, 2015)
The Best British Poetry 2015, ed. Emily Berry (Salt, 2015)
The Forward Book of Poetry 2016, (Faber & Faber, 2015)
The Best British Poetry 2014, ed. Mark Ford (Salt, 2014)
Ten: The New Wave, ed. Karen McCarthy Woolf (Bloodaxe, 2014)
The Mimic Octopus, ed. Will Harris & Richard Osmond (13 pages, 2014)
The Best British Poetry 2013, ed. Ahren Warner (Salt, 2013)
Dear World & Everyone in it: New Poetry in the UK, ed. Nathan Hamilton (Bloodaxe, 2013)
The Best British Poetry 2012, ed. Sasha Dugdale (Salt, 2012)
The Salt Book of Younger Poets, ed. Roddy Lumsden & Eloise Stonborough (Salt, 2011)
Korsakoff’s Paper Chain, ed. Jon Stone & Kirsten Irving (Sidekick Books, 2010)