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.
POETRY IN MOTION Why one Reds supporter is committing his love for Liverpool FC to verse Liverpool FC and poetry have a lot of previous – from John Toshack’s Gosh It’s Tosh collection in the late 70s, to the verse of Dave Kirby and Peter Etherington in the fanzine Red All Over the Land , to the lines written by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, a University of Liverpool graduate, in the aftermath of 2012’s Hillsborough findings. Now there’s Ben Wilkinson, Reds fan and book critic for The Guardian and the Times Literary Supplement , who’s compiling a series of poems commemorating the club’s legends. “Football is part of the fabric of life, and anything that’s important to people finds its way into poetry,” he says. “Wilfred Owen’s poem 'Disabled' describes a soldier who loses the use of his legs, meaning he can never play football again. Philip Larkin’s 'MCMXIV' compares boys queuing to join the army to fans outside Villa Park. These poems have stood th