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Infinite in Finite
Andrew Wynn Owen (All Souls College, Oxford)
Categories: 21st Century, British, Second Collections
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (128 pages)
(Pub. Sep 2023)
eBook (EPUB) Needs ADE!
(Pub. Sep 2023)
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A London Review Bookshop Book of the Year
Infinite in Finite develops the inimitable style of The Multiverse, the author's first collection (2018), praised as showing 'some of the best technical skills of any living poet', the work of 'one who is not afraid of big subjects, whose enthusiastic gaze is directed outward with energy and gladness'. Then Auden and the Romantics lighted his way. To those influences are now added the challenges of a Modernist style, drawing on Marianne Moore, T.S. Eliot and Delmore Schwartz.
In the long sequence 'Appearance and Reality' and throughout the collection's intricate polymetrical stanzas, readers experience more variation than most contemporary free verse provides. The poems challenge assumptions about the place of form in the modern artistic ecosystem.
Awards won by Andrew Wynn Owen Winner, 2015 Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors Winner, 2014 Oxford University's Newdigate Prize
'This is a vibrant collection by a fine young poet, full of energy and wit. It explores belief in God, love, life and the power and obstructiveness of language, how we know and what we know. It does all this in tightly rhymed stanzas.'
Jonathan Timbers, The High Window
'My favourite collection of 2023 was Andrew Wynn Owen's Infinite in Finite for its combination of technical adeptness and emotional heft. It is a joy.'
John Clegg, London Review Bookshop
'This is precision-engineered rhymed verse. At first glance it looks old-fashioned, as does some of the vocabulary - "go forth" - but we soon realise that rhyme itself operates as a limit, a finite, which can paradoxically lead to an infinite, as it echoes into the distance. It is this that enables Owen to link the two traditions, and to find the infinite not in a god, but in that which we recognise through the senses: love, animals, clouds, rewilding, and in the making that is poetry and art.'
Philip Terry, The Guardian
Praise for Andrew Wynn Owen 'It will be interesting to see where Andrew Wynn Owen goes next. A very young poet with some of the best technical skills of any living poet, one who is not afraid of big subjects, whose enthusiastic gaze is directed outward with energy and gladness, who writes of science and technology with some expertise, who has, well, considerable gifts, is definitely someone who bears close watching.'
Robert Darling, Expansive Poetry Online
'The Multiverse showcases a wise range of material, composed for the most part in the last three years; yet it rings with such flair and precision as would be expected from a more experienced writer...more than hope, happiness pervades The Multiverse'
William Hosie-Lissac, Oxford Review of Books
'There is a lightness that supplants the density of the grand themes however, that sometimes borders on the audacious with an Ashbery-like skill to impart the acerbic or casual aphorism where it's least expected.'
Liam Bishop, Review 31
'He has an almost miraculous ear for the sounds of words and their harmonies together. There is bounding vitality, surgical precision and coquettish wit in every stanza.'
Richard Davenport-Hines, The Spectator Books of the Year
'Andrew Wynn Owen's impressive debut collection has the crafted confidence of a poet who has inherited the stylistic techniques of Auden, Hardy, Herbert and all those forebears who placed their trust in poetry's lyrical birthright. The shapes and structures of intricately patterned verse feel like a natural form of expression for Wynn Owen, prompting and provoking a flexibility of language and a fluidity of thought appropriate to the bewildering and beguiling multiplicities of our contemporary world. Within those controlled outlines he showcases an extraordinary versatility of tone and feeling.'
- Simon Armitage
'To enter Andrew Wynn Owen's The Multiverse is to enter a world ringing with harmonic patterning, where past and close future are active simultaneously, where rhyme gathers and spins off the edges of intricate thought, where observation and meditation fire together with striking formal ease and precision. Hard to believe this is really a first full collection.'
- Jane Draycott
'Never once forbidding, the poems in The Multiverse still add up to something overwhelming. Wynn Owen's voice - unstrained, and pitched just this side of formality - emerges through prismatic formal shifts of poem after poem, making the book an exuberant expression of what Yeats called imagination's 'abounding glittering jet'. So completely attuned to the happy (and unhappy) accidents of experience and knowledge, these poems are far from accidental affairs, and their fixed and fluid shapes combine the prodigal verve of George Herbert's stanzas with a Byronic bounce and the unnerving authority of the young Auden or Lowell. This is poetry that shimmers and fizzes, but Wynn Owen's effortless superabundance, in imagery, style, and formal invention, concentrates rather than diffuses an undaunted, hyper-alert and profound sense of the world's weight.'
- Peter McDonald
'A remarkable display of formal dexterity through which a wide sweep of thought is captured.'
- Daljit Nagra'an Ashbery-like skill to impart the acerbic or casual aphorism where it's least expected'
Liam Bishop, Review 31
'Inspired, delighted, and exhausted me.'
- Richard Davenport-Hines
'Andrew Wynn Owen's virtuosic exploration of the variable resources of stanza form is a timely reminder (in a period of relative non-thinking in poetry) of all the ways in which the mind can engage with metrical language. These exhilarating poems bob, weave and dazzle in ways that we are used to in the best intellectual poets of the 17th century. And while Wynn Owen is unafraid to probe complex questions thrown up by science and philosophy, at the heart of his poetry is a redeeming and infectious love of life: above all, the poems in this big important book are lucid, eloquent and joyful.'
- John Fuller
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