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Categories: 21st Century, British
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (80 pages)
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In a series of ninety-five poems we listen to ‘the Reasoner’, a voice that is by turns ardent, despairing and comic. Petty obsessions rub against attempts at philosophical seriousness; vernacular expression vies with an intent deliberation. Above all, the Reasoner is worried. He has cherished the notion that, with thought and study, the world may be understood. But the world remains recalcitrant, elusive even in simple things like the trickeries of light on a spider’s web. Language plays tricks, although it may be as complete as we can manage. History proposes and disposes of its patterns. Behind all this there may be a ‘hidden order’ – and that is both a hope and a fear.
Does God help us to understand any of this? Does Art? Is the ‘soul’ a sanctuary? The Reasoner, the reader, ‘smiles ruefully and soldiers on’, ‘for this is not a wicked but a hard world, / and people struggle, without a scheme of things, / and deserve release.’
Awards won by Jeffrey Wainwright Short-listed, 2017 Arnold Bennett Book Prize (What Must Happen )
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
'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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