Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Last March: Review


The ‘”Brother with the Hair’s Better Half” excelled and sent me a collection of poems.

This beautiful book was launched this evening at the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge.

“Last March” is Kiran’s first full collection and was produced in collaboration with the Scott Polar Research Institute to mark the centenary of Captain Scott’s final expedition to the South Pole. This collection examines the well told story of Scott’s last ill fated expedition; however it manages to retell it in a way that gives those events a fresh perspective.


The Storm

Seems to start from the sea.
The waves ride up to meet the moon
And the sky thrums,
Dissipates into a rolling grey,
Smashes itself against the water,
Cracks with an egg-shell ease
To spill out a birthing of rain and thunder
That throttles the pumps to a slow ooze.

On deck, the men plunge
As the poop sinks waist-high,
Churn their legs through the sucking deep
And chase the ends of ropes
To lash the coal bags, rescue the ponies
As they wash over,
Necks snapped by their tethers
Or lost to the grappling ocean.

Peace comes slowly.
The sea quells itself to a gentle rock
And the pumps find their bite in the submersion,
Sound out their suction and
Return the water back,
Whilst in the forenoon
The fires are laid and lighted,
The losses noted and counted –

’10 tons of coal,
65 gallons of petrol,
two ponies,
one dog,
and a case of biologist’s spirit’


80º S

The day was new when we arose and relearned our fingers.
Gulls skulled the wind over our heads
As we pissed.

I imagine your hands, pale as the ground.
Remembering your warmth is wrong here,
As though you exist somewhere souther still.

In this strange, whirling place,
Intemperate as rock,
I come to realise I knew nothing of loneliness.


from “Last March” Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Pindrop Press 2012

It’s a wonderful collection and I recommend it highly.

You can order it HERE


  1. I don't think he wrote any poems,
    but Lucy's father has a fine set of photo's and a nice little recipe for Penguin,
    from the 18 months that he spent down there.

    1. I used to play in a Bar Billiards team with a wonderful chap - Martin White - who used to spend one heck of a lot of time down their with the Survey. He reckoned his Bar Billiards skills were honed by playing it on board their little ship sailing in the South Atlantic. He got used to playing on dodgy away tables: "Nothing compared to the South Atlantic Swell"
      I *think* he was pulling my leg, but you could never be sure with Martin!

  2. On first reading I like these verses a lot, and may well have to indulge! Thanks for spreading the news.

    1. The pleasure is all mine! I have read and re-read it a few times now.

  3. Thanks for that Alan - very evocative. Lovely.

    1. I love dipping into the book and reading one or two; they stay with you for the rest of the day.
      So much work goes in to distil thoughts and emotions. It's like drinking pure nectar.

  4. I have just read Captain Scott - Ranulph Fiennes's biography, and can highly recommend it. Fiennes is the only biographer who can speak from personal experience and knowledge, but more than that, this is a seriously thorough, and meticulously researched work. If nothing else it is worth reading for the last chapter where he attacks, like a surgeon with a scalpel, the inaccuracies and untruths and statements with no foundation, made by many of the debunkers, especially Roland Huntford. Many of the other debunkers seem to have used Huntford as source material without checking the veracity. My opinion of Scott has altered significantly since reading Fiennes.

    I can also recommend the novel - Antarctic Navigation by Elizabeth Arthur which is the story of a modern day American woman who eventually leads an expedition to repeat Scott's last journey, and this also contains a lot of well researched information about Scott, although a little more idyllic than the Fiennes. At just short of 800 pages this is a long haul, but worthwhile - forgive the pun.

    1. Hi Conrad, and welcome.
      Than you for that. I shall nip to the library and dig them out.
      There is far more value in reading a chap who has been there and got the t-shirt. I have always enjoyed reading Fiennes's books; his Transglobe was great fun!
      By all accounts, Roland Huntford's book seems to have been a real hatchet job. I think it's great that the balance has been restored with the centenary.

    2. I can second that.
      A truely excellent book.

      I would also recommend BIG TIME ..
      The Worst Journey in the World - Cherry Garrard
      Home of the Blizzard - Sir Frank Mawson

      Roland Huntford (would probably have liked Wind Turbines) :)

      As an aside, Am I the only one who finds the latest blogger (Prove you are not a Robot) a pain in the arse!! :(

    3. Hello, Sunbeam.
      You're not the first to mention "The Worst Journey in the World" Perhaps I ought to get that out of the library too.

      As for "Home of the Buzzard" - what's that got to do with Antarctica?
      I HATE the new Blogger anti-robot thing. It invariably takes me two or three goes to get it right...

    4. Home of the Blizzard

      Wonderful stuff.

      They did not know about excess vitamin A being so bad for you when the ate the Husky Livers Raw.
      I'll let you read the rest. :)

    5. Eeuuuugh! That all sounds rather unpleasant. I heard they drank quite a bit of champagne though. It appears that there supplies in that department were never too low! Sounds like they found Binder's Camp 1...

  5. Dear Alan,

    Thanks so much for the kind words - I was shamefully google-ing myself and found this...a lovely surprise!


    1. Kiran,
      I am in awe of writers who have that unique talent; weaving words that place you in the minds of their subjects in a small phrase.
      "I imagine your hands, pale as the ground. Remembering your warmth is wrong here"
      I can open your book at any page and be lost for the day.
      Thank you.


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