The Pale Ladder (2018)
- 133 x 203mm
- Xylem Books paperback
Also available to order internationally from bookstores and online retailers.
‘An extraordinarily rich collection, and one that reveals Skelton to be a major voice in landscape writing.’
(Alice Tarbuck, Caught by the River)
‘Cumbria has been a prime locale for English verse since the Lake Poets immortalized it in the early nineteenth century. Skelton’s haunted and evocative poetic writings, ethereal yet oddly material, both continue and dissolve this tradition - a poetry of animal and mineral traces or residues that stir the topographical imagination.’
(Paul Sheehan, What Is Zoopoetics?: Texts, Bodies, Entanglements.)
‘touch the bark that was your skin’
The Pale Ladder collects the majority of Richard Skelton’s poetic writing since 2005, including work first published in 2009 through his own Sustain-Release Private Press, and selections from the Corbel Stone Press catalogue, including writing co-authored with Autumn Richardson – an endeavour which must constitute one of the most significant and sustained small press collaborations of recent years.
Over one hundred poems and texts are reprinted in The Pale Ladder, including work from many long out-of-print and limited edition titles. In gathering these various works together for the first time, it is possible to glimpse the artist's overarching themes – the interconnecting threads – and to plot their development. Key among them is the desire to observe, to bear witness and to record the testimony of the land itself, through its many and varied agencies – its topography and weather, its flora and fauna, its place-names and dialects, and its records and archives.
Martyn Hudson describes this as ‘a sustained reflection on the nature of land and biography’ – an ‘idiosyncratic archiving of local topographies and the secrets they hold’. Crucially, he identifies Skelton’s focus on the ‘borders between the human and the non-human, and between actuality and imagination’, and it is this attention to what lies beyond material reality that characterises much of Skelton’s work – his willingness to give voice to the countless others; the land’s heretical and supernatural voices.