The Orchid Boat is a weave of stories: some personal, some
historical, some real, some imaginary. Often these stories may
co-exist in a poem just as they do in one's everyday mind, as a
collage mirroring our own perception of the world. It is a mix that
can include Alexandria or China or Brighton or North Wales. These
interwoven stories insist on the acceptance of contradictions and
complexity in people and in life; a recognition characteristic of
Harwood's poetry and shaped by his acknowledged influences: Gide,
de Montherlant and Cavafy, John Ashbery and Frank O'Hara. In
Harwood's poems the richest material and tone is found in 'the
ordinary', and in The Orchid Boat this focus is thrown into even
greater relief as he explores the power and weight of memories.
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