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Paul Stephenson

Author photo of Paul Stephenson, credit Ludovik Saliba
Books by this author: Hard Drive
  • About
  • Reviews
  • Awards
  • Paul Stephenson studied modern languages and linguistics. He has published three pamphlets: Those People (Smith/Doorstop, 2015), which won the Poetry Business pamphlet competition; The Days that Followed Paris (HappenStance, 2016), written after the November 2015 terrorist attacks; and Selfie with Waterlilies (Paper Swans Press, 2017). In 2013/14 he took part in the Jerwood/Arvon mentoring scheme and the Aldeburgh Eight, before completing an MA in Creative Writing (Poetry) with the Manchester Writing School. In 2018 he co-edited the ‘Europe’ issue of Magma (70) and currently co-curates Poetry in Aldeburgh. He is a university teacher and researcher, and lives between Cambridge and Brussels.

    Author Photo credit: Elizabeth Jennings
    'This book is nothing less than Stephenson's loving coronach for Hartman, the speaker of the poems guiding us through the Tartarean territory of grief like a modern-day and at times playful Virgil... Add to this Stephenson's infectious love of words and wordplay and the sound-systems they generate. Each poem is stamped with the hallmark of an incurable logophile.'
    Richie McCafferey, The Friday Poem
    'Bereavement is the saddest club to which to belong, the saddest territory to annexe. No one is ever prepared for stepping through this portal of loss. These meticulous and attuned poems spare neither reader nor the poet, nor should they. This collection is a stoic and grounded narrative telling of deep-rooted love and loss, of witness and grief. Grief is cast here as praise and loving appraisal upon the death of a life partner. With mordant and exact wit, with compassion and insight, this poet turns a wry and observing eye and sensibility upon regions of fathomless loss. Formally varied, adept in their imaginal reach, the poems honour life at every juncture, even as they mourn a life and a world thrown into sharp focus by the pitiless light shed by death. Equipoise is achieved throughout between personal and official dimensions (these booby-trapped with forms and documentations) of a death. Paul Stephenson brings all the tender mechanisms of language to sustain the weight of grief: this is an extraordinarily moving and accomplished collection which I know will command the attention it so richly warrants.'
    Penelope Shuttle
    'Paul Stephenson's debut collection is a wonder. He engages with the subject of grief with wit, intelligence and tenderness - and has imbued so much life and colour into the memory of someone who has passed. This is poetry for anyone who has ever lost someone. Warm and touching, this is poetry that celebrates and mourns those deep connections that we make in life.'
    Niall Campbell
    'Like Douglas Dunn's Elegies, Hard Drive is a masterpiece of love and grief. A brilliant and innovative formal poet, Paul Stephenson here applies his great gifts, with heart-breaking clarity and bravery, to the most unfaceable of subjects. The result is poetry of great impact and generosity which, by looking unblinkingly at every aspect of grief, allows us to know our own. The collection is a beautiful hymn to the human capacity for love and, like all great poetry, makes us feel less alone.'
    Jonathan Edwards
    'This is a heart-stopping debut of real emotional force and poetic intelligence. Paul Stephenson approaches the elegy through a kaleidoscopic, inventive, and genuinely moving use of form. The disorientating world of grief is captured with a blade-like precision, and yet Hard Drive is also full of hard-won light. Stephenson looks death in the eyes, and holds his nerve like few others.'
    Seán Hewitt
    Awards won by Paul Stephenson Short-listed, 2024 The Gay Poetry Lammy Award
    (Hard Drive)
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