The title of Vicki Feaver’s remarkable new collection derives from Blake’s illustration of a child standing with one foot on a ladder to the moon, crying ‘I want! I want!’ In the title poem it represents her childhood ambition to be a poet; in another, she rejects pressure towards achievement and longs to return to the sensual world of the earth.
This startlingly honest book follows the ladder of a life for seventy-five years, in poems that show how much is connected. Unlocking the voice of a silenced, powerless girl, Feaver writes about an apparently stable childhood which, to her, was painfully insecure: tormented with parental expectations and sibling jealousy, torn between mother and grandmother. The eleven-year-old who wanted to become a poet becomes the woman ‘buried under ice with words burning inside’, who becomes the old woman still ‘searching for words’ – fearful now of memory loss and a failing body.
I Want! I Want! is the work of a poet looking for a pattern in her life before it’s too late. Urgent, accessible and deeply moving, this is poetry of witness and survival: a vivid testament to the triumph of a poet’s spirit.s spirit.