Asylum presents the kind of journey John Clare might have taken in 1841 if, when he escaped the madhouse, he'd been traveling in his head rather than on his feet. Lola Haskins starts out with as little sense of direction as Clare had, and yet, after wandering all over the map, she too finally reaches her destination. The four sections in this book are where she rests for the night. The first looks tenderly at the cycle of human life. The second renders the world around her as if she were painting it. By the third, having lost her way, she turns to the supernatural and in the process is sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. The book ends as she finds it again and arrives in her dear north-west England, having learned from John Clare that she “can be homeless at home and half-gratified to find I can be happy anywhere.”
About the Author
Lola Haskins is the author of twelve books of poetry and three of prose. Among her honors are the Iowa Poetry Prize, two Florida Book Awards, two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, several awards for narrative poetry, and the Emily Dickinson Prize from Poetry Society of America. She currently serves as Honorary Chancellor of the Florida State Poets Association. She divides her time between Gainesville, Florida and Skipton, North Yorkshire.
“Lola Haskins writes with the startling freedom and grace of a kite flying and with the variety and assurance of invention that reveal, in image after image, the dream of the waking world.” —W.S. Merwin
“Ms. Haskins has the wide-eyed power to be tender, vulnerable, and exact. She noses through her amazing world like a baby tortoise, feeling her contours with delicate feet and finding everything weird, and still marvelous.” —George Macbeth
“Insightful and beautifully written, Lola Haskins' poetry is as beguiling as the Florida creeks, tupelo trees, and wading birds that grace its pages. Trusting equally in pen and paddle, Haskins perfectly invokes the blink of rain on a lake's surface, the moment when a river's color shifts from clear to amber. In Lola Haskins, water has its own Poet Laureate.” —Cynthia Barnett
“Haskins’ work here is spare, honed to a sharp and flinty precision. She travels deep into Clare’s mind and spirit to reveal profound and deeply moving illuminations about his—and her own—spiritual core.” —South Florida Poetry Review
“Anchored by Clare’s text, the poems in Asylum range widely— geographically, emotionally, and technically—and this large-hearted flexibility and suppleness is one of the book’s many gifts.” —Salamander