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Lynne Hjelmgaard book launch


Outside each propelling constellation
but inside that feeling of boat.

It demands and bruises,
cuts pride, hardens stomachs.

[…] (‘That Feeling of Boat’)

It was such a pleasure to be at the launch of Lynne Hjelmgaard’s new collection A Boat Called Annalise last night.

Hosted by publisher Seren Books, it was a warm occasion, well attended and with an open bar (slightly dangerous when there are poets around, but Lynne assured me there was a cap!) The upstairs room at the Yorkshire Grey in Camberwell was a good venue – there seem to be a number of pubs in that area where poetry events happen, usually while a completely different set of patrons drink downstairs, unaware of the poetry doo-dads happening above.

I’ve known Lynne for a few years now, and apart from being a truly generous and gentle soul, she has a rare and quiet wisdom from which I’ve drawn great support.  I admire her work, her attitude and her honesty and I’m fortunate to count her as a friend. Clearly many people feel the same way as there was a lot of love in the room.

Lynne Hjelmgaard book launch for A Boat Called Annalise

Several of the poems in A Boat Called Annalise are familiar to me from workshopping sessions in the past. As Lynne would be getting out her poem I’d occasionally tease her ‘is it about … boats..?’

But to read them as a sequence so much is revealed – about the adventure at the core of the collection (the poet sailing across the Atlantic to the Caribbean with her late husband, and their lives there) and the relationships – between husband and wife, between the poet and the boat, the sea, the landscapes and the people.

Beautiful, tender, dream-like in parts, yes, but this is a real story about hard-won achievement and the poignancy of loss; the poems  take the reader into the guts of the experience.


The no-moon night,
the dark ghostly creatures,
the slow-motion small tsunamis

engulf Annalise,
reek of rotten seaweed,
spilled oil, dead shark.  (‘Night Watch’)

A Boat Called Annalise, Seren 2016 £9.99

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  1. Hi Robin, what a generous post re: Lynne Hjelmgaard’s book. It was nice that you could come along to the launch.
    -Amy Wack

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Robin Houghton 2024