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Philip Terry

  • About
  • Reviews
  • Philip Terry was born in Belfast, and is a poet, translator, and a writer of fiction.  He has translated the work of Georges Perec, Michèle Métail and Raymond Queneau, and is the author of the novel tapestry, shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize. His poetry and experimental translations include Oulipoems, Dante’s Inferno, and Dictator, a version of the Epic of Gilgamesh in Globish. The Penguin Book of Oulipo, which he edited, was published in Penguin Modern Classics in 2020, and Carcanet published his edition of Jean-Luc Champerret’s The Lascaux Notebooks, the first ever anthology of Ice Age poetry, in April 2022.
    Praise for Philip Terry 'This is a poetry oddly out of time, neither quite modern nor entirely ancient, yet inextricably entwining both epochs...the sensation of reading poetry that may predate better mapped, more recent cultures is delicious. This book celebrates the idea that, even when stuck in a French villa with the Gestapo combing the countryside outside, it might be worth the effort to attempt to reach back through the millennia and talk to a people we can never really know.' 

    Simon Coppock, Minerva 

    'A superb and invigorating collection, breaking ground to discover the figure of our dream of lyric's song in all its lavish beauty, primitivist rhetoric and longing for ancient home in the language of the I's eye seeing itself to abstraction.'

    Adam Piette, Blackbox Manifold

     

    'What emerges is remarkable, a generative Ice Age mythology, with its own creation stories, hero narratives, a war between black bulls and red horses (a Lascaux cave- painting come to life)...magnificent, mischievous book'

    John Clegg, Modern Poetry in Translation

    'Champerret conjures up the day-to-day activities of the hunter-gatherers - cooking, scouting, trapping, making huts and tents, sewing - and, of course, their sacred rituals, dances and the entry into the dark, the underworld, the otherworld of the caves. The cumulative effect of the poems is slowly to build an atmosphere that evokes both the strangeness and the familiarity of the Palaeolithic world'

    Hilry Davies, Literary Review

    'A fascinating and clever book - a fantasy of deciphering, coding, what can be done within limits and limited vocabulary... I've never read anything like it'

    Stuart Kelly, The Scotsman

    'Exhilarating and thought-provoking... It will, I am sure, become an influential and seminal book, one which will illuminate the previously dark and shadow-filled caves of formative language.'

    Rupert Loydell, Tears in the Fence

    'The English language is shape-shifting, and Philip Terry has turned onto its multiple modern metamorphoses to produce a witty, subtle and unprecedented fugue with variations. Shakespearean themes of love, regret, loss, and misanthropy gleam through a sumptuous ventriloquising of varied idiolects taken from the new media and the global infotainment traffic, seemingly infinite permutations of structure and syntax show a delighted agility and command of intervention. I am admiring, diverted, baffled, and moved by this original, contemporary re-engagement with the Sonnets'
    Marina Warner 
    'Sparse by design, this poetry is a strong reminder of the power of words when allied to our imagination, experience and emotions.'
    Prize Judges, New Angle Prize for East Anglian Literature
     '[Philip Terry's Inferno] follows Dante's narrative freely but carefully, moving constantly between colloquial and standard, rhythmically lively and effectively drawing the reader into the story.'
    Peter Riley, The Fortnightly Review
     'Philip Terry treats the tablets like elements of code to be cracked open for contemporary eyes and ears. [His] version is original and powerful; he does not try to mend the fragments into a legible whole, but remembers the poem's shattered state.'
    Marina Warner
    'It is brilliant... the pattern and rhythm very forceful and the lingo just stunning.'
    Marina Warner 
    'The lineation speeds along at a nice articulated pace, the Dantesque pitch is right and propulsive, the cast of villains is energising, the balance between language and lingo, the allusive and the obscene just right... Berrigan the perfect shambling guide...'
    Seamus Heaney
      'Though Terry's 'I' is all but absent, his eye is keen throughout, seizing on significant details of his wanderings around estuaries, around the old Berlin Wall, and finally along the digressive paths followed by W. G. Sebald through Suffolk in The Rings of Saturn. En route, Terry's precise [...] selection of language -- sampled from the vocabularies of biology, geography and history, among other disciplines -- offer hints and glimpses and conjectures about the ways in which these three modern landscapes have been shaped by their past and present inhabitants and vice versa. There is no overt editorialising, but rather a pervasive air of pensiveness that invites many re readings. These are poems of high ambition and integrity, and there is nothing else in the English language quite like them.'
    Kevin Jackson
     'These surprising and intriguing poems offer new ways of seeing overlooked places; of reading landscapes too often dismissed as illegible. Tonally adventurous, formally radical, sometimes witty, sometimes melancholically beautiful, they stand at a convergence of nature writing and experimental poetics.'
    Robert Macfarlane
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