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The Tethers

Carrie Etter
ISBN-13: 
9781854114921
Format: 
Paperback
Publication Date: 
Monday, June 15, 2009
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Winner of the London Festival Fringe Prize for the Best First Collection of Poetry 2010.

American expatriate Carrie Etter’s debut collection, The Tethers, introduces a compelling new voice. By turns wry, celebratory, and pensive, the poems roam from an imaginary village to Manhattan, the southwestern U.S., London, the Czech Republic, and Etter’s homeland, the Illinois prairie. With a lyric intensity born of compression and linguistic precision, The Tethers’ travels are as much psychological as physical, exploring the life of the mind as it engages with delight and despair, pleasure and hardship, in an unusually mature first book.

Originally from Normal, Illinois, Carrie Etter lives in Bradford on Avon and teaches creative writing at Bath Spa University.
 

Listen to Carrie Etter read her poem, ‘Magnum Opus’:
 

 

User Reviews

Anonymous's picture

Review from New Welsh Review

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Carrie Etter's first collection, The Tethers, records changes of season and mood, continent and light, with consistent watchfulness. Etter was raised in Normal, Illinois, and spent time in California before settling in the Wets of England. These lyric poems bear witness to both sides of the Atlantic and are informed by English and Latin Classics. She writes astutely of inner and outer journeys, whether it be through childhood, illness, the States, or arrival in an English village.

In several poems there us a sense of discomfort, even alienation. For example, she accurately describes ennui in 'Lecture', both her own and that of a girl, 'breaking pencils in her lap one by one', an in 'Arizona, 2002' captures the trapped teenage unrest of the daughter of the owners of a roadside stand, as she 'gazes in my direction, looks beyond me'. In 'Divorce' the pain surrounds a strained relationship with her ex, who 'remembers which sister / I like least and ask / how is she doing', whereas in 'The Colony of Us' the sense of unease come from uncomfortable and noisy surroundings, as she lives in a flat where 'we are less and less alone'. However there is much wit in the book, from her sharp observation on village life about 'the irregular announcement of birth or death, / rarely in tandem in a population of two hundred twelve', to the mounting humour of 'The Review': 'There is no need to name The Review...No one at The Review is mere.' 'Americana, Station by Station' is also comic, effectively interlacing captions from small-town America, interlacing the registers of marketing and hard-sell evangelism, basketball and provincial politics.

This book will be enjoyed by a readership that is both general and academic, and on either side of the Atlantic. Carrie Etter's poetry stems from strong geographical roots and, unlike some contemporary poets, she shows an awareness of her literary heritage. Dedictaed to her late father, The Tethers is a fine tribute and promising debut, filled with intelligent observation and written with precision.

Sarah Wardle New Welsh Review Summer 2010

15/02/2011 - 13:34
Anonymous's picture

The Tethers by London New Poetry Award 2010 Judges

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It is rare to find a poet having quite so much fun with language and life as Carrie Etter. The Poems perform acrobatics with forms as they are driven by the possibilities of words so each piece seems to arrive as its own unexpected and surprised ending. What's most impressive is Etter's restless mind that fetches odd allusions or steers off into tangents in a way that always compels us to make the journey. It is also rare to find a poet who can persistently find joy through suffering with such an assured lightness of touch which defies its lucid surface. A persistently witty and beautifully moving book that is carefully themed and linguistically patterned so that it feels more like the collection of an expected poet. Judges' Report, London New Poetry Award 2010

06/09/2010 - 09:36
Anonymous's picture

Review from Brad Luen Semipop blog

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Forty-eight poems in fifty-one pages, the punk. The second one, “Ode to Raggedy Ann”, starts by addressing the doll as “Rag girl, limp limbs and stitched smile”, and you worry it’s going to degenerate into a pathos-fest. You might expect me to now say “But she resolutely avoids pathos for the remainder of the poem”. Well she doesn’t — it’s a fucking poem about a rag doll, of course there’s gonna be pathos, but, as in Toy Story 3, it becomes heroic. She chooses her descriptors as concisely as a good novelist (this might not sound like much, but check if Heaney bothers these days). And she pulls a neat pronoun-trouble trick, typical of poetry MFAs but off-limits to all but the weirdest prose writers, opening up the piece a bit with a deftly-placed “my”. The book gets better, peaking with the title poem, one of the three that spills on to a second page. It’s full of pairings: reality and representation, homo sapiens and homo desiderans, male and female He and She created them marching two by two hurrah hurrah. A tether links two things, but there’s no limit to the number of things to which one can be tethered. One reason this kind of poetry is worth reading is that it helps us navigate the graph of connection. Another reason is that the words are really cool.

 

Think of the childlike couple on Underground posters
telling us to relinquish our seats to the aged and avoid
the shows of force in boisterous earphones and fried food.
Despite the absence of genitalia, one child’s long, wispy hair and distinct eyelashes, the other’s short, thick mop gender them.

 

The book is only a slice of Etter’s craft; she’s also written much more Languagey things. Anyone who talks about bad dental work in a poem called “The Occupation of Iraq” is brave or ignorant. “There is no exponent to relate my worst pain to an entire country’s wounds” shows she’s not ignorant.

06/08/2010 - 11:33
Anonymous's picture

Review from THE TIMES

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<p>Carrie Etter is an American expatriate, and her poetry is rootless in the best sense: it moves over wide-ranging territory and seems able to make itself at home anywhere. Although The Tethers is her first collection, Etter fully possesses her material,&quot; evincing &quot;intelligence and authority.&quot; --Paul Batchelor, The Times (22 August 2009) The full review can be found at http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/...

23/04/2010 - 17:26
Anonymous's picture

Review from POETRY WALES

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<p>Carrie Etter's &quot;marvellously pithy and eloquent collection bursts with repressed urges and shudders [&hellip;]. There is electricity in these poems, and a tactile, nervous energy. [...] The writing is keen and intimate, tainted with incipient regret, and more than a hint of the terrible power of recollection to distract and distort.&quot; --Richard Gwyn, Poetry Wales</p>

23/04/2010 - 17:26
Anonymous's picture

Review from the TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

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"Figurative, metaphysical, rich in classical allusion, the poems in Carrie Etter's distinctive debut collection are highly lyrical, but unlike some of her contemporaries, she avoids the anecdotal in favour of the abstract, often adopting philosophical modes of inquiry... The Tethers marks the arrival of an original talent, and is surely one of the most accomplished first collections of recent years."

09/03/2010 - 16:42

Comments

Anonymous's picture

Review from the TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

0
No votes yet

"Figurative, metaphysical, rich in classical allusion, the poems in Carrie Etter's distinctive debut collection are highly lyrical, but unlike some of her contemporaries, she avoids the anecdotal in favour of the abstract, often adopting philosophical modes of inquiry... The Tethers marks the arrival of an original talent, and is surely one of the most accomplished first collections of recent years."

09/03/2010 - 16:42
Anonymous's picture

Review from THE TIMES

0
No votes yet

<p>Carrie Etter is an American expatriate, and her poetry is rootless in the best sense: it moves over wide-ranging territory and seems able to make itself at home anywhere. Although The Tethers is her first collection, Etter fully possesses her material,&quot; evincing &quot;intelligence and authority.&quot; --Paul Batchelor, The Times (22 August 2009) The full review can be found at http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/...

23/04/2010 - 17:26
Anonymous's picture

Review from POETRY WALES

0
No votes yet

<p>Carrie Etter's &quot;marvellously pithy and eloquent collection bursts with repressed urges and shudders [&hellip;]. There is electricity in these poems, and a tactile, nervous energy. [...] The writing is keen and intimate, tainted with incipient regret, and more than a hint of the terrible power of recollection to distract and distort.&quot; --Richard Gwyn, Poetry Wales</p>

23/04/2010 - 17:26
Anonymous's picture

Review from Brad Luen Semipop blog

0
No votes yet

Forty-eight poems in fifty-one pages, the punk. The second one, “Ode to Raggedy Ann”, starts by addressing the doll as “Rag girl, limp limbs and stitched smile”, and you worry it’s going to degenerate into a pathos-fest. You might expect me to now say “But she resolutely avoids pathos for the remainder of the poem”. Well she doesn’t — it’s a fucking poem about a rag doll, of course there’s gonna be pathos, but, as in Toy Story 3, it becomes heroic. She chooses her descriptors as concisely as a good novelist (this might not sound like much, but check if Heaney bothers these days). And she pulls a neat pronoun-trouble trick, typical of poetry MFAs but off-limits to all but the weirdest prose writers, opening up the piece a bit with a deftly-placed “my”. The book gets better, peaking with the title poem, one of the three that spills on to a second page. It’s full of pairings: reality and representation, homo sapiens and homo desiderans, male and female He and She created them marching two by two hurrah hurrah. A tether links two things, but there’s no limit to the number of things to which one can be tethered. One reason this kind of poetry is worth reading is that it helps us navigate the graph of connection. Another reason is that the words are really cool.

 

Think of the childlike couple on Underground posters
telling us to relinquish our seats to the aged and avoid
the shows of force in boisterous earphones and fried food.
Despite the absence of genitalia, one child’s long, wispy hair and distinct eyelashes, the other’s short, thick mop gender them.

 

The book is only a slice of Etter’s craft; she’s also written much more Languagey things. Anyone who talks about bad dental work in a poem called “The Occupation of Iraq” is brave or ignorant. “There is no exponent to relate my worst pain to an entire country’s wounds” shows she’s not ignorant.

06/08/2010 - 11:33
Anonymous's picture

The Tethers by London New Poetry Award 2010 Judges

0
No votes yet

It is rare to find a poet having quite so much fun with language and life as Carrie Etter. The Poems perform acrobatics with forms as they are driven by the possibilities of words so each piece seems to arrive as its own unexpected and surprised ending. What's most impressive is Etter's restless mind that fetches odd allusions or steers off into tangents in a way that always compels us to make the journey. It is also rare to find a poet who can persistently find joy through suffering with such an assured lightness of touch which defies its lucid surface. A persistently witty and beautifully moving book that is carefully themed and linguistically patterned so that it feels more like the collection of an expected poet. Judges' Report, London New Poetry Award 2010

06/09/2010 - 09:36
Anonymous's picture

Review from New Welsh Review

0
No votes yet

Carrie Etter's first collection, The Tethers, records changes of season and mood, continent and light, with consistent watchfulness. Etter was raised in Normal, Illinois, and spent time in California before settling in the Wets of England. These lyric poems bear witness to both sides of the Atlantic and are informed by English and Latin Classics. She writes astutely of inner and outer journeys, whether it be through childhood, illness, the States, or arrival in an English village.

In several poems there us a sense of discomfort, even alienation. For example, she accurately describes ennui in 'Lecture', both her own and that of a girl, 'breaking pencils in her lap one by one', an in 'Arizona, 2002' captures the trapped teenage unrest of the daughter of the owners of a roadside stand, as she 'gazes in my direction, looks beyond me'. In 'Divorce' the pain surrounds a strained relationship with her ex, who 'remembers which sister / I like least and ask / how is she doing', whereas in 'The Colony of Us' the sense of unease come from uncomfortable and noisy surroundings, as she lives in a flat where 'we are less and less alone'. However there is much wit in the book, from her sharp observation on village life about 'the irregular announcement of birth or death, / rarely in tandem in a population of two hundred twelve', to the mounting humour of 'The Review': 'There is no need to name The Review...No one at The Review is mere.' 'Americana, Station by Station' is also comic, effectively interlacing captions from small-town America, interlacing the registers of marketing and hard-sell evangelism, basketball and provincial politics.

This book will be enjoyed by a readership that is both general and academic, and on either side of the Atlantic. Carrie Etter's poetry stems from strong geographical roots and, unlike some contemporary poets, she shows an awareness of her literary heritage. Dedictaed to her late father, The Tethers is a fine tribute and promising debut, filled with intelligent observation and written with precision.

Sarah Wardle New Welsh Review Summer 2010

15/02/2011 - 13:34
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