Out of the Blocks is the debut full-length poetry collection from Newcastle based poet Ellen Shelley. Curiosity, memory and deep feeling can be found in these poems that play with the dark edges ofthe lyrical I and explore the complexity in particular of human relationships, and the desire at times, to be outside of them.
‘There is something implacable and, yes, startling, lurking under the surface of this book. The tone is gentle and considerate until suddenly – it is not! I felt quite buffeted, as if by one of the winds that Ellen Shelley delineates knowingly. There was so much I had to guess at – and yet I knew. Out of the Blocks sidles up to you, takes you by the hand, and looks you in the eye.’ – Jennifer Compton
‘Out of the Blocks has the prophetic feel of a lucid dream. Poem after poem manage a difficult juggle of grounded-ness and elevation, to emerge with a wondrous new voice.’ – Judy Johnson
‘In poems unafraid to probe old hurts and failings, Out of the Blocks manages to stay grounded in a present where the act of writing is a kind of salvation. Enlivened by humour, clever wordplay and surprising imagery, Ellen Shelley’s poems are swift and sure-footed, going straight to the heart and mind. This is a compelling first collection, impressively direct and strong.’ – Jean Kent
‘Ellen Shelly’s Out of the Blocks carefully examines the tenuous spaces between grief and joy. These are poems rooted in time and place–from Newcastle’s Memorial Walk where “Morning thumbs/a ride on an overcast sky”, to the cold precision of an army barracks: “I wake to tuck clean corners/into a metal bed.” Deeply observed, the poems in this collection are immersed in the physical world, but charged with nostalgia and desire, focused attention creating exquisite transformation.’ – Magdalena Ball