Back cover text:
They flew for love,
flew for something that was new,
then flew again, to go home.
Taking Flight, the first poetry collection from journalist turned poet Aileen Ballantyne, takes you on a journey through time and place. From the 1969 Moon Landings to the Lockerbie disaster and beyond, these poems are the personal stories of people who will be remembered long after the headlines are history. An astronaut tracing his daughter’s name in the sands of the Moon; a time-travelling magician from the Qin Dynasty; a young policeman working amidst the Lockerbie disaster; a soldier/mother making war remotely every day from her home in Nevada – these people are pulled to the present in Ballantyne’s poems, some literal, some lyrical and all heartbreakingly real.
Aileen Ballantyne has a rare and natural gift for language. There's an unpretentious directness and clarity to her work which highlights her ability to manipulate words to the poem's advantage. But most of all, there's an importance to everything she writes. Whether it's personal, metaphorical or historical, her narratives tell us things we really need to know, and that's what poetry is all about. JOHN GLENDAY
Aileen Ballantyne’s debut collection is remarkable for its breadth of subject, poems that stretch from Stevenson to Nansen, from the affecting intuition that an ageing astronaut, back on Earth, feels ‘the thud of re-entry’ of new missions and hears his spine ‘clicking, remembering its lightness’, to precisely rendered long-tailed bats of 1942 set to deliver bombs fixed to their chests with bulldog clips. In the particularity of detail and in the depth of preoccupation, this collection, centred on remarkable and unremarkable human experience, has the texture of satisfying biography. JANE McKIE