Far-reaching in his enquiry, Michael Symmons Roberts in Ransom, his eighth published collection of poetry, addresses some fundamental issues about human nature – who and what guides us, and in turn keeps us in thrall. Some poems have a more traditional meditative rendering while others tend more toward the performative, riffing off contemporary themes about living in the city. Yet, all are united by the ubiquitous theme of ransom. Jeanette Winterson has monikered Roberts as a religious poet for the secular age. Reading through the sequences in this collection, I can see why for it understands ransom as levied on us by how we live now, the creeds we might follow, our education, to say nothing about the cultural and ethical legacies of the past.
Kevin Young’s accomplished collection of poems, Stones, moves with deliberate pace, an anodyne for those who have lost someone they will always love. The language is delicate and gentle—yet provocative in word and manner. In his review for The New York Times, David Orr describes Stones as a book about how families absorb and repurpose loss. Stones embraces grief by examining the root likeness of our ancestry—the way we grow into and out from our inheritance.
This collection of 44 Science Fiction poems is a departure from Scots poet J O Morgan’s usual style. His 6 previous poetry publications have been single, book-length poems. Assurances, published in 2018, won the Costa Poetry Award and his previous collections have been nominated for major awards. His poetry tends towards physics and metaphysics; its Read More
[…] Dear wall, dear gate, dear stile, dear Dutch door, not a cat-flap nor a swinging door but a one-time piñata. […] Entering any body of work via an “Ode to the Hymen” announces, with undeniable chutzpah, that things are about to change; really, there’s no going back. Sharon Olds’ most recent collection Odes Read More
Lancashire-born Michael Symmons Roberts is a poet whose time has clearly come, confirmed by a string of recent awards, most notably for his 2013 collection Drysalter which garnered both the Forward and Costa awards. As an ex-pat Mancunian, I was especially looking forward to reading his latest collection, a thrillingly dark tour of my home Read More
According to the cover in this, Leontia Flynn’s fourth collection, the poet explores and “resolves the concerns and forms” raised in earlier work, suggesting that the central sequence considers “the constructed (my italics) nature of childhood”. This it does, but elsewhere too there is a pervasive and chafing sense of the constrictions associated with childhood Read More
The very act of opening The Abandoned Settlements is pleasurable. With its tactile, foldback cover and ink-blue end papers, as an object, this book is beautiful. The cover photograph – an aged light switch on a wall of peeling turquoise paint – foreshadows the textures and layers within the poems themselves. The first poem, “Line Read More
There is a tradition of photography that focuses on urban poverty, decay, disintegration, and entropy; in “urbex”, crumbling, abandoned buildings are transformed into hauntingly and fashionably beautiful images. I couldn’t help but bristle at the title of Ocean Vuong’s newly Forward Prize crowned and now TS Eliot Prize shorlister, Night Sky with Exit Wounds. Is Read More
Michael Longley has been the recipient of some of the most prestigious literary prizes in the world, including the Whitbread, the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Hawthornden Prize, and most recently the 2017 PEN Pinter Prize. Longley calls his home in Carrigskeewaun, Co Mayo his ‘soul-landscape’; the environment that feeds and inspires his soul. In Angel Read More
All I want now is my dignity back, To stand on my own unsteady feet […]. Testament is Robert Crawford’s seventh full length collection of poems, and here he writes about a myriad of themes in many different styles. Made up of forty-two poems, Testament is divided into five distinct sections; “Hard-Wearing Flowers”, “A Little Read More