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Showing posts from September, 2013

Review: James Lasdun's Water Sessions

With Water Sessions, his first book of poems in a decade, James Lasdun puts paid to concerns that the closing sentiment of his last collection, Landscape with Chainsaw (2001), was a deadly serious one. The final poem of that book was a farewell to poetry in favour of working the land, specifically the wooded Catskill Mountains of New York State, to which the poet and his family had moved from England. It offered a wishful resolve to the tension, acutely felt throughout the book, between the social complexities of life and the no-nonsense appeal of nature. "And if I write, it'll be with a seed-drill", declared our poet, perhaps with a nod to the young Seamus Heaney of "Digging"; "a quatrain of greens per bed, no sweat". But Landscape with Chainsaw was a slim volume of large achievement. Beyond its postmodern pastorals, Lasdun brought a conversationally discursive yet formally incisive style to bear on notions of home and flight, identity a…

'The Nightmare' runner-up in the Poetry Society's Geoffrey Dearmer Prize

"There were well over sixty poems eligible for the 2012 Geoffrey Dearmer Prize, all from strong emerging voices curated by a variety of different editors, which has made for an especially rich field from which to have to pick particular flowers. Of the many poems I read and returned to again and again, five left enduring imprints no matter how often I re-read them - imaginatively, musically, in terms of the authority and associative power with which they explored the worlds they dramatised. They were Nicholas Laughlin's complex and thought-provoking 'Reading History', Candy Neubert's delicately building, quietly explosive 'ways to leave', Richard Scott's sensuous, highly charged 'Maz', Ben Wilkinson's 'The Nightmare' with its compelling fusion of the visionary and the real, and finally Kayo Chingonyi's winning poems from 'calling a spade a spade'."

- from Jane Draycott's judge's report.

The Geoffrey Dearmer …