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What Must Happen
Categories: 21st Century, British
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (88 pages)
(Pub. Aug 2016)
eBook (EPUB) Needs ADE!
(Pub. Aug 2016)
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Shortlisted for the 2017 Arnold Bennett Book Prize
What Must Happen is Jeffrey Wainwright’s most intimate and elegiac collection of poems to date, recalling lost parents, relations and friends. Shared childhood memories, and the history of hometown Stoke-on-Trent, connect Wainwright’s personal themes to wider historical subjects. A sequence of contemporary hymns to Roman gods depicts Jupiter, ‘elbows on the bar, nursing a beer’, while a homage to twentieth-century Italian painter Ottone Rosai asks, twenty times, ‘What is there to an empty street?’ One answer: ‘the simply sunlit, / the clearly pure, / the assent to less’. Another: ‘plums / so prolific they colour out / the leaves’. Rather than polarising the playful and the solemn, Wainwright’s poems examine their complex interactions. Though composed primarily in free verse, symmetries and refrains span the collection as a whole, imparting a tight, vibrant clarity. The poems in What Must Happen are painted with a hair-fine brush, swift and precise, unwilling to rest at an adequate fiction as long as an inadequate truth remains in reach. ‘There are these things and sometimes the shadow of these things / but they will not be seen apart.’
Awards won by Jeffrey Wainwright Short-listed, 2017 Arnold Bennett Book Prize (What Must Happen )
'What Must Happen is at once a lyrical meditation on the nature of history and on ourselves as perceiving subjects in a world of objects and other species. It ranges confidently across different geographies and societies from working lives in Josiah Wedgewood's Etruria in the Potteries to the example of the Eternals: Jupiter, Venus, and Apollo. Combining sinuous intelligence with humanity and compassion, Jeffrey Wainwright's latest collection puts him at the forefront of contemporary English poets.'
'Jeffrey Wainwright's work is among the most interesting of any poet now writing'
The Guardian Praise for Jeffrey Wainwright
Ben Ray, Oxford Review of Books
'As Best We Can is a defining poetic moment of 2020.''There are some lovely individual poems here, like 'Spring Walk', 'Seascape' and 'The Window-Ledge'. But best are the poems of loss and change, about growing up in the Potteries after the War'
Steve Whittaker, Yorkshire Times
Andy Croft, The Morning Star
'Many of these quiet poems have a disproportionately unsettling effect... This is work that comes from slow attention, proper effort and commitment to understanding.'
Steve Hanson, Manchester Review of Books
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