PJ Harvey is releasing a new book-length narrative poem, Orlam, due out in April of 2022 via Picador Poetry. It was written over the course of six years, in the traditional Dorset dialect, and the book also features an English translation. Here's the synopsis:

Nine-year-old Ira-Abel Rawles lives on Hook Farm in the village of UNDERWHELEM. Next to the farm is Gore Woods, Ira’s sanctuary, overseen by Orlam, the all-seeing lamb’s eyeball who is Ira-Abel’s guardian and protector. Here, drawing on the rituals, children’s songs, chants and superstitions of the rural West Country of England, Ira-Abel creates the twin realm through which she can make sense of an increasingly confusing and frightening world.

Orlam follows Ira and the inhabitants of UNDERWHELEM month by month through the last year of her childhood innocence. The result is a poemsequence 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 is not only a remarkable coming-of-age tale, but the first full-length book written in the Dorset dialect for many decades. Orlam comes with a facing-page English translation, so readers can follow the richness and subtlety of the original poem with ease.

Scottish poet, writer, and musician Don Paterson, who edited the poem, says, "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."

"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," PJ says. "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."

The hardcover book is available for pre-order now, and there's also a collector's edition due out in October of 2022 with PJ's original illustrations.

Get Dry on vinyl in the BV store.

PJ Harvey - Orlam

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