Wednesday, February 10, 2010

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.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Lengthening Winter

Happy to leave work today and find not only that the bastard ice has melted (thus rendering my hilly walk home a pleasurable one in which I can let my thoughts wander, as opposed to this morning, when I shuffled like some early-to-rise madman with my eyes glued to the treacherous pavements, only occasionally lifting my head to watch the bloke in front march then wobble then flail with desperation), but also, on arrival home, to find that this week's TLS had fallen onto my doormat, and includes two of my poetry reviews, on Carrie Etter's The Tethers, and Lorraine Mariner's Furniture. The issue (no. 5575; February 5 2010) also contains, among other things, two new poems from Simon Armitage, which like all of the recent poems of his which I've spotted here and there (Rialto, Poetry London, and in the excellent online poetry journal Blackbox Manifold), seem to be something of a departure from his characteristic style. Worth checking out.