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Anatomy of a Whale—by Matt Barnard


Product ID: 961 Category: .
Matt Barnard knows how to make poems bigger than themselves, filling the page & the time beyond their reading, treading a nice line in Larkinesque terror. This is a poet with the highest regard for the reader, who offers us poems that lay out a welcome mat, before ushering us into the conservatory to look out at that incredible, incredible view.
From its opening poem, ‘A Lamp Shop,’ in which the speaker finds himself wondering ‘why all the bulbs are lit through the night,’ and notices ‘the town drunk hunkering down/in the doorwell opposite, his back turned to the light,’ Anatomy of a Whale is an accessible and richly symbolic collection. Like the most welcome guests, these restrained and powerful poems announce themselves forcefully, don’t outstay their welcome, and leave our rooms changed.

Jonathan Edwards, winner of the Costa Book Award for Poetry, 2014

This is a varied and rewarding collection. The poems are imaginative and well-crafted, alert to the vagaries of the human predicament, as well as offering often surprising perspectives on the natural world.

Carole Satyamurti, multi-award-winning poet & sociologist

A wide range of subject material and a knack for ‘telling it slant’ distinguishes this lively and perceptive collection. Here is a poet interested in the makers, of bread, of maps . . . He connects imaginatively with danger, moments of crisis, and with the impact of the natural and animal world across time and history, in poems about the whale, the dog, the cat, crows, cows, gannets. There’s a grounded fascination with myth here, also, making this an absorbing and thought-provoking read.

Penelope Shuttle, TS Eliot Prize shortlisted poet