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Richard Price

Rays by Richard Price
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Categories: 21st Century, British, Scottish
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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(Pub. May 2012)
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(Pub. Oct 2009)
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  • Description
  • Excerpt
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  • Awards
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  • If 'Two halves of nothing'
    cuts out on the radio,
    if the river's up
    past the stereo,
    if everything good
    you needed to know
    gets lost in the flood,
    you remember it
    after love.

                          from 'Two halves of nothing'

    Teasing, funny and celebratory - Rays is a wry and tender lover's gift. Continuing Richard Price's virtuosic playfulness of form, it improvises on the formal shape of sonnet and canzone, charging them with the energy of blues and rock, glimpsing narratives of desire. In a restless, sleepless landscape where language becomes shrill, an alphabet of love poems creates a dreamy island, between the solace of haiku and the precisions of Emily Dickinson. The Renaissance poet Louise Labé and an imaginary band, The Loss Adjusters, sing the complex beauties of passion.

    Cover painting: Passing Aquaintance by Dorothy Stirling (2009), reproduced by kind permission of the artist. Cover design by


    Wake Up and Sleep
    The thought keeps counting    
    Continuous Positive Air Pressure    
    Wake up and sleep    

    Lute Variations
    Your eyes translate me    
    From the moment    
    Lute, companion    

    Earliest Spring Yet
    About this    
    The idea    
    Manet with Mardy    
    Melancholy plumber    
    A shape, the past    
    As if a song    
    Resonant frequency    
    Channel Link    
    A century find    
    Earliest spring yet    
    Shades on    
    Age of Exploration    
    The long low structure    
    Dippers –    

    Languor’s Whispers        

    Songs for the Loss Adjusters
    Work’s over
    Trackside fires    
    Ambulance work    
    Two halves of nothing    
    Last train, full of couples    
    I’m writing to write again    
    [Hidden track]    

    little but often        

    Rhyme nor Reason        

    The Line
    Informer (1)    
    Informer (2)    
    Informer (3)    
    The line    
    Griefy train    
    The snow gets it    

    Darkness and Dazzle
    Question time    
    Darkness and dazzle    

    Non-reflective glass    
    Like a student gardener    

    Golden Key        

    Richard Price is Head of Contemporary British Collections at the British Library and a tutor at the Poetry School, London. He has published over a dozen books of poetry since his debut in 1993, including Lucky Day (2005), which was a Guardian Book of the Year and shortlisted for the Whitbread ... read more
    Awards won by Richard Price Short-listed, 2017 Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year Award (Moon for Sale) Winner, 2013 Creative Scotland SMIT Poetry Book of the Year
    (Small World)
    Short-listed, 2010 Scottish Arts Council Poetry Book of the Year Award
    Short-listed, 2008 Scottish Arts Council Poetry Book of the Year Award
    Short-listed, 2005 Jerwood/Aldeburgh First Collection Prize
    (Lucky Day)
    Short-listed, 2005 Whitbread Poetry Book of the Year
    (Lucky Day)
    Short-listed, 2005 Forward Felix Dennis First Collection Prize
    (Lucky Day)
    Runner-up, 1997 Paul Hamlyn Poetry Award, for pamphlet Hand Held Winner, 1988 Winner, STV Creative Writing Prize, Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde Winner, 1988 Keith Wright Memorial Prize for Poetry, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow Winner, 1987 Keith Wright Memorial Prize for Poetry, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow
    Praise for Richard Price 'It's an extraordinary book... Price has often been characterised by his delicacy and precision, his flexible sensuality of tone and gentleness, a domestic familiarity and a sense of respect that is neither pious nor self-regarding, and never sentimental. But here is a new departure, as if the arrival of a child later in the poet's life, and the imposing, impending threats of violence in the world around us, heighten both the claims of the human and the principles of virtue that obtain within the poetry itself.'
    Alan Riach, The National

    'The book is refreshingly without judgment of the Inuit's customs and mores.'

    Jacqueline Schaalje, Mayday Magazine

     'The Owner of the Sea brings Arctic cultural history to new audiences. In Price's skilful rendering, these retellings of Inuit myths leave the reader wanting to learn more about the rich heritage of our neighbours in the north.'

    Ingibjörg Ágústsdóttir, The Bottle Imp

    '[a] wonderful and unexpectedly timely book.'

    David James, Anchorage Daily News 

    'There is nothing missing. The stories inhabit a world compounded of the continuing subsistence hunting economy and centuries of shamanistic magic in which animals, especially hunted animals, will speak to you, seduce you, trick you, help you, murder you... as indeed the humans do to each other. They are full of sexual and scatological obscenities, acts of cruelty, dishonour and betrayal not to mention cannibalism, and it's all there; nothing is toned down. One can freely feel that the Inuit imaginative sphere is faithfully and fearlessly represented.'

    Peter Riley, The Fortnightly Review

    'Each tale is full of bawdy, fun and cruelty in the best of the old storytelling tradition. Price walks a tightrope between outright filth and respectable poetic style with an effortlessness that is majestic to behold...These are stories that should be more well-known, and Price's translation ought to become the standard version in English. A timeless collection.'

    Joe Darlington, Manchester Review of Books

    'True myths are contradictory, ambiguous, always shape-shifting as much as the characters. Price captures this with precision... Price's poetry has always had a lapidary quality balanced with a lilting, almost nursery rhyme rhythm. It works exceptionally well in this collection.'

    Stuart Kelly, The Scotsman

     'He is a poet with a huge range of styles, for whom no subject matter is outlawed... He clusters similar poems so they sing to each other - a group of nature poems, a medley of songs - and the opening, penultimate and final poems are gracious, gentle and pleasing. We're never in any doubt that we're in the company of an unusual intelligence, but he is clever in a generous way.'
    Mandy Haggith, Gutter Magazine
     'Poets have to be linguistic virtuosi, but I prefer them to be brilliant quietly. Richard Price'€™s poetry is inventive, sometimes dazzling, but never merely showy. I first came to Price's poetry with the publication of Lucky Day (2005) and every subsequent book has delivered fresh weather. Moon for Sale appeared in January 2017, and I'm still rereading it and finding new pleasures.'
    Carol Rumens, Best Poetry Books of 2017, The Guardian
     'A wryly playful poet...'
    The TLS
    'There are also beautiful, intimate love poems which served to remind me that even in sad and dangerous times, human sweetness can prevail. There are also many moments of delicious humour.'
    Josephine Corcoran, The North, Issue 58 (Summer 2017)

    'Reading the poems you become aware you are in the presence of a mind working much more quickly and sharply than your own.'
    The Poetry School 
    'Richard Price retains an individual voice in which intense feelings of love, or dislocation, are packed into often short, complex lyrics. There is a tension in reading his poems which is created by his care for words, by the integrity of his distillation.'
    Carol Ann Duffy
    'Price's humane intelligence manifests itself in deceptively simple and subtly musical forms of address. Readers who allow themselves the pleasure will not be disappointed.'
    Robert Potts, The Guardian
    '...when you come to such energy combined with impressive inventiveness and lyricism, it is rather hard to pass on by [...] the humour, the wittiness [are] there throughout, as is a boldness of utterance [...] Here, however sorrowful the story, I hope other readers too will feel the energy of language in the making.'
    Caroline Clark, Eyewear
    'A superb first line, 'No colours can mean more than Lego's' ('Delicate greenery'), leads on to an amazing arc of narrative and imagery and richness. There's playground slang and prejudice. And suddenly a pared-down, lyric directness…'
    Tony Williams, Magma
    'Richard Price retains an individual voice in which intense feelings of love, or dislocation, are packed into often short, complex lyrics. There is a tension in reading his poems which is created by his care for words, by the integrity of his distillation.'
    Carol Ann Duffy
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Cover of Lucky Day
Lucky Day Richard Price
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