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Categories: 21st Century, British, First Collections, LGBTQ+
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (132 pages)
(Pub. Jun 2023)
eBook (EPUB) Needs ADE!
(Pub. Jun 2023)
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When his partner suddenly died, life changed utterly for Paul Stephenson. Hard Drive is the outcome of his revisiting a world he thought he knew, but which had been upended. In poems that are affectionate, self-examining, sometimes funny and often surprised by grief in the oddest corners, the poet takes us through rooms, routines, and rituals of bereavement, the memory of love, a shared life and separation. A noted formalist, with a flair for experiment, pattern and the use of constraints, Stephenson has written a remarkable first book, moving and, despite everything, a hopeful record of a gay relationship. It is also a landmark elegy collection.
'On offer is a masterclass in writing and playing with form - and the poems are playful and humorous as well as brave, heart-stoppingly sad, and sure-footedly accomplished.'
Diana Cant, The Alchemy Spoon
'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.'
'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.'
'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.'
'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.'
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