You win The Bridport Prize and the inaugural Bloodaxe Books National Poetry Competition. Bloodaxe then publish your first full collection and it's made a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. All this happens in the space of twelve months. Little do you know that thirty years later only a few aficionados will know your name in the poetry world.
This chronicle forms the bare bones of Deborah Randall's story, but very little more appears on Google. I encountered her first collection, The Sin Eater (Bloodaxe Books, 1988) among the remnants of Peggy Chapman-Andrews' personal library, and my curiosity was aroused. Randall's work is idiosyncratic, often drawing on the myth kitty yet also raw, earthed in harsh personal and natural landscapes. Her edgy, uneven male-persona poems are especially interesting, gnawing indirectly yet painfully at gender models.
Following the publication of that first book in 1988, Randall brought out a second collection, titled White Eyes, Dark Ages (Bloodaxe Books, 1993). Since then, I can find nothing in her name. A few pieces from her two books have been anthologised, especially by Bloodaxe, but her name has faded from the scene.
Poetic fame is ephemeral, as certain present-day, C.V.-driven careerists would do well to note. Moreover, the current maelstrom of social media means that taste moves on even more quickly than in the past. Poetry lovers can only savour, treasure and keep alive delicious discoveries like Deborah Randall's work.
For many years, the Edinburgh-based Irish poet Hayden Murphy has been producing wonderful keepsake poems to mark Bloomsday and since 1992 he has been colla...