I conjure Aunts, sly laughers,Aunts not of the bloodbut of the spirit; invitefrom their cold cots for scones and teaAunts who could cheatand fib for fun, playing Old Maidin silent riot, keeping a cardup a knickerleg; Aunts who would neverhurt a child to do it good;
Aunts without men, good sports,bachelor Aunts eternally retiredwho liked dogs, who could whistle,Aunts with pockets, pocketsfulof small timely treats,and not wincing at stickinessnor at blood as they strodethrough the war, through the wards,voluntary servant goddesses.
You women long at peace,rooted in sycamore scrubbeneath St. Peter’s topsyturvy stoneswithout memorial: I will praiseyour names, your dented hats and bulging shoes,who pedalled across my dreamlast night with shining spokes and hubsand cracked halloos and glimpse of knees,old children in your upright childless bones.
from In Praise of Aunts (Peterloo, 2008)
Peacocke's poem "In Praise of Aunts" is the title poem of her new
collection (Peterloo, 2008). Her previous volumes are: Marginal Land (Peterloo, 1988), Selves (Peterloo, 1995) and Speaking of the Dead
(Peterloo, 2003). All her volumes have received exceptionally
favourable national review coverage. Reviewing her first volume for London Magazine,
Stephen Knight wrote "Like Larkin, Peacocke has that all-too-rare gift
of knowing how to make a memorable poem", and reviewing her second
volume for Stand, John Lucas wrote of her "truly inventive elegance, wit, and immaculately-controlled feeling" and described Selves as "a gem of a collection". Her third collection received full-page coverage in Guardian Saturday Review.
Peacocke was born in 1930 and grew up in South Devon. She read English
at Oxford and after teaching, travelling, marriage and bringing up a
family of four, a training in counselling and work in a children's
cancer unit she moved to a small hill farm in Cumbria where she still
was founded by Harry Chambers, still the Publishing Director, in 1976.
Its masthead is “poetry of quality by new or neglected poets”. Peterloo
publishes between 8 and 10 volumes of poetry a year, runs an annual
poetry competition – the 2008 competition will be the 24th – and, since
1999, an annual International Poetry Festival.
"From time to time
it has seemed to me that the Peterloo Poets series is a haven of poetic
sanity in a world of modish obfuscation."Michael Glover, British Book News