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PJ Harvey announces narrative poem Orlam that's been in the works for six years

12 November 2021, 16:48 | Written by Cerys Kenneally

PJ Harvey is publishing a new "narrative poem" titled Orlam next year that's been in the works for six years.

The narrative poem is, according to the description, "set in a magic realist version of the West Country," and is the first book to be written in the Dorset dialect for decades.

PJ Harvey's site states of the book, "Orlam follows Ira and the inhabitants of Underwhelem month-by-month through the last year of her childhood innocence. The result is a poem-sequence of light and shadow – suffused with hints of violence, sexual confusion and perversion, the oppression of family, but also ecstatic moments in sunlit clearings, song and bawdy humour. The broad theme is ultimately one of love – carried by Ira’s personal Christ, the constantly bleeding soldier-ghost Wyman-Elvis, who bears ‘The Word’: Love Me Tender."

Orlam will be available as a hardback from April 2022, and a special collector's edition featuring PJ Harvey's own illustrations is expected to follow in October 2022. The book will also include a facing-page English translation.

PJ Harvey said of the release, "Having spent six years working on Orlam with my friend, mentor and editor Don Paterson, I am very happy to publish this book of poetry with Picador. Picador feels absolutely the right home for it, and it’s an honour to be in the company of poets like Jacob Polley, Denise Riley and Carol Ann Duffy."

Scottish poet Don Paterson added, "I’m immensely proud that we’re publishing such a bold and original work with Picador. Working with Polly – and watching her development as a poet over the years – has been a great privilege. Orlam not only breaks new ground as a long poem – it brings an entire dialect back to life from the edge of its own extinction, and reminds us how radically the world is altered by how we speak of it."

PJ Harvey's Orlam narrative poem will be released via Picador Poetry in April 2022, and is available to pre-order now.
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