"Child: New and Selected Poems" 1991-2011 combines a generous collation of poems from Mimi Khalvati's five Carcanet volumes with previously uncollected sequences.
She orders her work autobiographically, telling the stories of her life in four sections: childhood and early adulthood; motherhood; meditations on light; and love and art, circling back to childhood in her celebrated final sequence ("The Meanest Flower").
The figure of the child stands at the centre of the book, appearing in many guises: the poet as a schoolgirl on the Isle of Wight, or in half-remembered later years living with her grandmother in Tehran; her two children, now grown up; children in art; and, an enduring sense of oneself as a child that is never left behind.
Here is the essential Khalvati: exquisitely nuanced, formally accomplished, Romantic in sensibility; rapturous and tender in response to nature, family and love.
Her poems, David Constantine writes, "say what it feels like being human, the good and the ill of it, with passion, tact and lightness".