In a lateral career move that makes sense as completely as fellow cultishly adored musician John Darnielle’s transition to novelist earlier this year, PJ Harvey is to release a collection of poetry in 2015.
Harvey – the only act to have won the Mercury Prize twice, for Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (2000) and Let England Shake (2011) – wrote the poems that make up The Hollow of the Hand whilst travelling the world following the release of Let England Shake, with the book touching on visits to Kosovo, Afghanistan and the USA among others. The book’s 224 pages will also feature photographs taken by Seamus Murphy, previously Harvey’s collaborator on a series of short films based around Let England Shake. Bloomsbury Circus will publish it in the UK on 8 October 2015 and in the USA on 20 October 2015.
In a press release, Harvey says: ‘Gathering information from secondary sources felt too far removed for what I was trying to write about. I wanted to smell the air, feel the soil and meet the people of the countries I was fascinated with. My friend Seamus Murphy and I agreed to grow a project together – I would collect words, he would collect pictures, following our instincts on where we should go.’
A poem that presumably features in the collection, “The Guest Room”, has been made available through The New Yorker, alongside audio of Harvey reading it. It appears to be a continuation of the themes and style that preoccupied Harvey on Let England Shake (still her most recent album), documenting the often surrealistic intrusion of war and its after effects on the lives of those who live through it with the same combination of precise observation, lyrical beauty and intimations of horror that makes her music so gripping. In other words, this is probably already your most anticipated poetry release of the year.