Two Girls and a Beehive offers a minutely observed exploration of the life and work of visionary artist Stanley Spencer and his first wife, Hilda Carline. Inspired by paintings, letters, personal and social history, these poems illuminate Spencer’s creative legacy and engage the reader with the contradictory beatitudes of his art.
‘Nothing less than a masterpiece of ekphrasis, this is a work of extraordinary unity, daring and emotional breadth… These poems marvellously reconfigure Spencer’s tawny pigments, scenes of warfare and bohemian domesticity, couplings in low-ceilinged rooms, flowered prints, the strange militancy of his Christian faith and, above all, the annihilation of a woman artist on the altars of desire, betrayal and art. I am smitten from the first page to the last.’ ~ ANNIE FREUD
“I read this with exhilaration and pleasure: a marvellous act of dual authorship by two poets at the top of their game. Something magical happens in these pages. Works of visual power exchange speech with poems written in response to them. Biographical poems thoroughly inhabit and re-imagine the minds of Stanley and Hilda Spencer. The book is an act of what Dante called visible speaking (esto visible parlare): visual practice takes on a refreshed verbal life; the landscapes of paintings rise clear in the mind’s eye; and their subjects speak newly to the mind’s ear.” ~ DAVID MORLEY