Stones by Matthew Hollis

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Matthew Hollis's first collection of poems, Ground Water, was shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Award, the Guardian First Book Award and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Its follow up, Stones, is a swirling meditation on loss and recovery in six parts that asks how far must we change in order to overcome the past? And what of ourselves will we have lost in so doing?

Stones is the first publication from Matthew Hollis since Now All Roads Lead to France: the Last Years of Edward Thomas was awarded the 2011 Costa Award for Biography. A longer poem of around 200 lines, it takes its setting from the Lake District where the author was living when he began work on the poem in 2006. Ten years later, after more than 300 pages of drafts, Stones was completed. It is this very element of time, and its contribution to our well being, that occupies the poem. After trauma, how can we live well in the present without doubting or denigrating the past? Or must we retain our connection to formative experience, whatever the personal cost, in order to understand the present?

The first edition of Stones having sold out, Matthew Hollis asked Incline Press to print a second edition to accompany his reading the poem on the Radio 4 new poetry show, The Echo Chamber. Incline Press doesn't usually run to second editions, not just because their books are limited editions, but because Graham Moss doesn't like to print the same thing twice. On the other hand, they felt that Stones deserves to be in as many hands as possible. The compromise was to design a completely new edition. Although they kept as ornament Paul Kershaw's lovely wood engraving of Blaveen on the Isle of Skye, this new edition of Stones is letterpress printed in Monotype Bembo, on Zerkall paper. The titling is DeLittle of York's Number 43, a san serif wood type. The book is 8 3/8 x 5 3/4 inches. It was sewn into its printed paper wrapper by our long-suffering friends Bill Seversen and Joanne Behm while on a busman's holiday on the Kyle of Sutherland in August 2016. This new edition is of 400 un-numbered copies. Collectors may be able to find copies of the first edition online or at a bookshop that specialises in Private Press books, such as Collinge & Clark in London.