Anne Ryland, Unruled Journal

Signed copies can also be obtained

Unruled Journal

Valley Press, 2021

‘There is a fierce and unpredictable momentum to Unruled Journal that sweeps you along, marvelling at Anne Ryland’s inventiveness, range and linguistic panache. Her voice is generous and idiosyncratic, often mischievously so. There are also deeply affecting poems (including excellent versions of German and Polish originals) haunted by history, particularly 20th century Europe’s tragic inheritance. Gloriously, at the end of the collection, a newfound love of running offers release and redemption, captured in poems of such exuberance and transformative energy you feel you are also running through the border, joining “the formation of those who know where to go and how and why.” ‘

Linda France

‘This is a richly integrated new collection from Anne Ryland, full of subtle inter-weavings. I’m particularly struck by how the themes echo each other in an unforced way throughout; those of home, of borders, of identity, of personal and wider history, and also the theme of language itself and the boundaries it can break. The poems are unusually varied in tone, moving with ease through the earthy, the poignant, the humorous and the unsettling. Prose poems are full of vitality and versions of the German-born poet Hilde Domin also contribute strikingly to the whole. Unruled Journal is deeply rewarding, far-reaching and humane.’

Moniza Alvi

Cover painting: Crystal Waters, Island of Luing, Scotland
© Gill Knight 2021

Signed copies can also be obtained


Arrowhead Press, 2006
Shortlisted for The Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2006

‘Anne Ryland’s poems are unique in their combination of patient exploration and imaginative reach. The poem Silk Escape Map, for instance, begins with the larger gesture “She holds the land of Burma in her hands / as if it were a live creature / sent to preserve her until the end” and then opens out as carefully and revealingly as a valuable folded map. And this poet is adept at the telling phrase: “My life is small / but I will make room for him” (The Tall Man), “The quiet will not be the same quiet” (Listening for Winter). The haunting series After Vermeer is a still, yet impassioned centrepiece to a very fine book. This is a collection of impressive substance, and I commend it wholeheartedly to its readers.’

Moniza Alvi

‘Anne Ryland’s poems are subtle as Vermeer paintings – so hauntingly meditative they make you shiver. She has a deliciously mercurial imagination, and is in love with language, whether it’s the sea’s script, Greenlandic, or “the carved drawers of etymology.” ’

Pascale Petit

Cover image: Inverdovat Pond
© Deborah Phillips 2006

Signed copies can also be obtained

The Unmothering Class

Arrowhead Press, 2011

‘A powerful sense of history pervades Anne Ryland’s impressive second collection – history played out on the world’s stage as well as within families and the genes passed between them. This layering – “a stem stitch flowing through lives” – creates a work of substance, authority and variety. These poems are shape-shifters, animated narratives of ordinary lives made extraordinary by the poet’s precision, a wonder and attentiveness “not far from love”. There is plenty to delight in (staircases, secrets, stars) and be moved by (letters, winters, sorrows). Reading these poems reminds me of looking at Paula Rego’s paintings – playful but haunting, stories back-lit by uneasy truths.’

Linda France

Cover image: Crop Circle Sunset II
© Deborah Phillips 2011

From Reviews of Unruled Journal

‘This is a third collection, assured, wide-ranging, whose themes work subtly together to deepen and expand its concerns. I was struck by Ryland’s ability to evoke quite desperate situations (such as disability, ill health, death of parents) with a deceptive lightness and grace: grief and loss are met clear-sightedly, even made beautiful. I love how Anne Ryland’s voice can span ranges of feeling in a single poem, embracing gravity along with deliciously strange wryness … There is a lot of joy in Unruled Journal. I loved the poems which celebrate a return in later life to the freedom and speed of running and which take the collection off into a heady new direction … Ryland is an extraordinarily gifted poet who should be much better known. I recommend this book highly.’

Pippa Little, The High Window
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Unruled Journal is rich with superbly crafted poems about family, real and imagined, about women, about how the way we live inside language shapes and anchors our experience … Poems adapted from German and Polish originals – Hilde Domin, Leon Stroiński – keep the canvas broad, Ryland’s sensibility inseparable from our European heritage and history, the overall sweep of Unruled Journal deeply personal yet always aware of how our destinies interface with wider forces, inner and outer. This is a magnificent collection, culminating in some triumphant poems which celebrate the freedom of the body running, though language and play are never far away.’

Rosie Jackson, Acumen

‘These are poems that flit between the tangible and the enigmatic, the way a body is caught between flesh and absence, the way language is too … In these frank and confessional poems, the “I” is certainly not censored. Ryland’s voice is generous and intimate, offering up moments of personal insight for the reader … The final poems here spill out exuberantly across the page. Ryland takes us by the hand and pulls us, gasping, out into “May sleet and June thunder” along the banks of the “quiet Tweed”, running “with water and mudflats, with North Sea and estuary, drawing towards the river’s source” (Running, I become) – all our mortal senses lit up.’

Sophie Thomas, Magma Poetry
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‘The way that Ryland uses language (not only English but German and Polish too), and the sounds we make, the words we use, with all their local colour like haar, hinny, mardy, nither, many of them native to the north-east English coast where she lives – lock the poems into their landscape and communicate not only a meaning but the pleasure that the poet feels in using them … The pleasure of bones, breath, movement is a constant theme in the book. It is also very hard-won, against the paralysis of physical wasting and grief … A book of personal wisdom, physicality and delight.’

Chris Beckett, Butcher’s Dog
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‘The book is stamped with a gently humorous self-portrayal and something of a stoical, unrepining philosophy of life. The ‘passionate’ poet of conviction who also comes to light here forms a contrast, but the more searing aspects of Ryland’s vision are somehow reinforced by her overall scrupulousness and quietness of tone … We’re with her on what proves to be an adventure. The adventure is to find that an apparently ‘quiet’ poet has so much originality, depth and force. Committed (as we discern) to tolerance and compassion, and highly aware of these qualities in others, she unearths the mystery and (sometimes) agony of being alive.’

Dilys Wood, Artemis

Unruled Journal has beautifully crafted, eclectic poems that skate lightly between prose and poetry; present and past; Essex, Northumbria and beyond. As I read them, I had the image of a water strider on the surface of a pond, flitting from place to place, but with emergent direction … The poems are often affectionate and gently humorous, especially those related to family, but there is a mischievous edge to some of them, and in one case a devastating last verse.’

Peter Stewart, The Frogmore Papers

From Reviews of Autumnologist

‘Above all, Ryland’s verse is so mesmeric that I want to keep quoting it. She is, too, an accomplished poet artlessly switching voice, line length, form … Ryland is a poet who “treats language as an endangered species” (The Tall Man); simply, this is the best collection I’ve read in a long while …’

Gail Ashton, Envoi

‘Anne Ryland’s first collection Autumnologist introduced a poet with a remarkably assured voice, tone and style … Ryland’s subtle, finely wrought poems repay however much attention the reader brings to bear upon them.’

Paul Batchelor, Acknowledged Land

‘I first came across the poems of Anne Ryland in Northwords Now. They passed the A. E. Housman test of quality – the hairs on the back of my neck bristled … I hope her sensual poems will be securely caught in sheets of publishers’ paper where their insights and beauty can be savoured.’

Gerard Rochford, Northwords Now

‘Ryland’s is a poetry of awe at the world’s mystery …’

Belinda Cooke, Acumen

‘This nicely produced volume is full of lyrically intense poems. I liked and was impressed by how sure-footedly and patiently Anne Ryland, in this first full-length collection, picks her way along shores and through trees, endowing the landscapes she evokes with metaphorical richness in her quest to understand family and other personal relationships …’

Joan McGavin, Second Light Newsletter

From Reviews of The Unmothering Class

‘Ryland reinvigorates and reclaims almost forgotten lives, often incredibly harsh times and circumstance … perhaps it’s a little unfashionable to describe it as such, but this is a very class conscious, feminist collection and the better for it in this reviewer’s eyes … There are many fine women poets on the scene at the moment. To an illustrious list add the name Anne Ryland.’

Julian Colton, The Eildon Tree

‘In The Unmothering Class, Anne Ryland gives a voice, and a pen, to her foremothers who were “barely literate” … Ryland calls this process of giving the dead a voice, “a haunting”. And her poems are indeed haunting, packed with such precision of life and detail that the women come alive in the reader’s mind … The hardships and tragedies that befall Bessie [Trought] and her family are so simply, succinctly told that in the five short pages of this poem you feel as if you have read a whole Charlotte Brontë novel.’

Chris Beckett, London Grip

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‘Embracing, befriending, imagining the past, The Unmothering Class is a well-crafted and elegiac collection, with several poems in the last section about the fading of the poet’s own mother. An overall cohesion binds the poems together, each finding its own form. The language is plain, measured, empathetic and unstrained, infused with gentle imagery … Anne Ryland writes strong sad women, strong sad poems.’

Linda Black, Long Poem Magazine

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‘This is a brave and readable response to the dilemma of life in the Unmothering Class and a very welcome addition to the sparse literature on childlessness.’

Mandy Haggith, Northwords Now

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