New Light for the Old Dark
Just a hunch, but since I came across the poetry of Sam Willetts in the latest Poetry magazine and elsewhere, I'm inclined to agree with Dan Wyke's prediction that Willetts' debut collection, New Light for the Old Dark, due from Jonathan Cape in April of this year, will certainly be shortlisted for and perhaps win a number of first collection awards, and no doubt be well-received on the whole. His mixture of poetic registers and the precise observations of his poems remind me a little of Michael Hofmann's work, but Willetts' stuff (and I'm only going on a handful of poems here, particularly 'Tourist' and the ambitiously-titled 'Digging') seems looser and more freewheeling; a jangling, stop-start lyrical music propels them along with satisfying originality. His subject matter is also distinctive: the crushing experience of heroin addiction and recovery informs 'Digging' in particular. I'll look forward to the book appearing later this year, as with Dan Wyke's own first collection, due from Waterloo, and debuts from Adam O'Riordan and Miriam Gamble, from Chatto and Bloodaxe respectively, all published in the summer.