It’s safe to say that 2019 was a big year for Margaret Atwood. Alongside celebrating the release of The Testaments – the hotly anticipated sequel to her classic novel The Handmaid’s Tale – she won the Man Booker prize (alongside Girl, Woman, Other author Bernardine Evaristo), and it was announced that her debut novel The Edible Woman was being adapted for television.
But Atwood wasn’t going to stop there. Now, the Canadian author has announced she will be publishing a new poetry collection, which will be her first release since 2019’s Booker win.
The collection, titled Dearly, will be released later this year on 10 November, and is described as an exploration of “absences and endings, ageing and retrospection, but also about gifts and renewals” that will feature werewolves, aliens and sirens. The book will be Atwood’s first collection of poetry since her 2007 release The Door.
“Every poem in Dearly rings with all Margaret Atwood’s characteristic curiosity and energy,” a representative from Chatto & Windus, who are publishing the collection, told The Guardian. “It is a pure delight which stretches heart and mind.”
Touted as the “collection of a lifetime,” the release of Dearly will also mark Atwood’s first publication since the death of her beloved partner Graeme Gibson, who passed away during her press tour for The Testaments.
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According to the book’s official synopsis, Dearly will bring together many of Atwood’s “most recognisable and celebrated themes” including “myth and legend” and “pressing political issues”.
Over the last couple of years, the number of similarities drawn between The Handmaid’s Tale – which was published over 34 years ago – and the modern political climate, has made Atwood somewhat of a political symbol. Because of this, it will be particularly interesting to hear her present-day response to the likes of Donald Trump, the assault on abortion rights in the US, and the climate crisis.
After all, when she has spoken out on political issues – such as when she argued that women will be “directly and adversely affected by climate change” – her sharp, precise words and powerful presence have made a big impact.
As we await the arrival of Atwood’s new work – which arrives 59 years after the publication of her first collection, Double Persephone, in 1961 – we’ll be watching closely for any new updates which may give us more of a clue about what the collection may contain, including, of course, the all-important cover.
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