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What Must Happen
RRP: GBP 7.99
ISBN: 978 1 784101 97 8
Categories: 21st Century, British
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: July 2016
88 pages (print version)
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: Paperback, eBook (Kindle)
Digital access available through Exact Editions
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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'
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