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Same Difference publishes with Seren

    from the publisher:   This ambitious new collection from poet and critic Ben Wilkinson finds its author experimenting with poetic voice and the dramatic monologue. Carefully crafted yet charged with contemporary language, the book brims with everyone from cage fighters to boy-racers, cancer patients to whales in captivity. Several poems unpick the preconceptions and prejudices that can inform so many of our encounters – with the world, art, and one another – while others take a sideways glance at everything from male depression to the history of meat-eating; from the philosophy behind athletic competition to surreal yet familiar emotions. Notable here are poems that wrestle with the mystery of failed and successful relationships, both providing moments of transcendence and despair. There are well-observed pieces about sport, particularly the rewards of running, from a noted devotee. Wilkinson has also been deeply inspired by the French symbolist poet Paul Verlaine (18
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Don Paterson: Writers and their Work (Liverpool University Press, 2021)

    Don Paterson: Writers and their Work ( Liverpool University Press , December 2021)    Don Paterson is one of Britain’s leading contemporary poets. A popular writer as well as a formidably intelligent one, he has won both a dedicated readership and most of Britain’s major poetry prizes, including the T. S. Eliot Prize on two occasions, the Forward Prize in every category, and the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. In this first comprehensive study of Paterson’s poetry, Ben Wilkinson presents him as a modern-day metaphysical, whose work is characterised by guileful use of form, musicality, colloquial diction and playful wit, in pursuit of poetry as a moral and philosophical project. Drawing on a wide range of commentators, Wilkinson traces Paterson’s development from collection to collection, providing detailed analyses of the poems framed by theoretical and literary contexts. An essential guide for students, specialists, and the general reader of contemporary poetry alike,

Review: Fiona Benson's Bright Travellers

Never mind movements, schools and styles: fundamentally, there are two types of poet – those who see spirits, and those who just drink them. As Sean O'Brien noted when reviewing her Faber New Poets pamphlet in these pages in 2009, Fiona Benson is a sober, contemplative sort. But as her first full collection Bright Travellers reveals, she is as much drawn to the metaphysical as to the mystical, treating the poem as a kind of secular prayer. The opener, "Caveat", may be a terse appraisal of the cactus, its "moist heart" and "store of water / held beneath its spines" a working model of life's resilience in the face of inevitable hurt. But, elsewhere, a poem such as "Lares" is a full-blown hymn to the "small ghost" of a bird, conjuring this "noosed spirit of the eaves" as gatekeeper of a hidden world beyond our everyday outlook. Benson often draws on personal experience in her writing – wading "thigh-deep in polle

The NS Poem: Mam Tor

 A new poem of mine features in the New Statesman Christmas issue, alongside two short poems by Alison Brackenbury and a new short story by Lawrence Osborne.     Read it above, or on their website .

"As if, with belief, we might achieve anything": from doubters to believers

Prior to this season’s emphatic campaign, Liverpool last won a title when I was five years old. Like many, I’m still processing the complex emotions associated with season after season of hope, belief, despair, frustration, vindication and determination that now, finally, have lead to the prize that has so long eluded a club built on winning in the decades leading up to my birth. From the outside, football can be — like so many things — caricatured, misunderstood, and easily dismissed. But it remains a guiding passion for many precisely because its twists and turns, tragedies and euphorias, reflect the human dramas of our own lives. As Bill Shankly quipped: football is not a matter of life and death; it is much more important than that. No one right now will understand that more than the two Liverpool captains pictured here. Steven Gerrard is a Liverpool legend for so many reasons: his devotion to his boyhood club despite the lure of silverware at other clubs through the 2000s and