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The Red-Headed Pupil

Jeffrey Wainwright

Cover Picture of The Red-Headed Pupil
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Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (80 pages)
(Pub. May 1994)
9781857540567
£6.95 £6.25
  • Description
  • Excerpt
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  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • Carcanet published Jeffrey Wainwright's first book of poems, Heart's Desire, in 1978, and his highly-praised Selected Poems in 1985.
    The title poem of this new collection states:



    The red-headed pupil is worried
    he is not following.
    But there's a lot to follow. What is his body, what is his mind? How can he be him? What is real, and can he look for it? Is he only a different version of a brick wall? Studiously, peering closer, as though at an anatomy lesson, `he tries harder'.

    Now there is this idea of mattering, even as against Empires. And of Freedom. Being free of thirst, hunger, disease, could he be free of everything-of love, of belief, of the dead? And how can he talk of these things? How can all these bits of history, dreams, quotations, family, different voices as well as what he tries to think of for himself, fit together? Two ambitious, twenty-four part sequences comprise The Red-Headed Pupil. Both display broad political and human perspectives and a remarkable prosody. More than fifteen years on, readers will recognise the poet of the celebrated `Thomas Muntzer' sequence with the technical and civic resources of an eloquent maturity.
    Jeffrey Wainwright was born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1944 and was educated locally and at the University of Leeds. He has taught at the University of Wales, Long Island University in Brooklyn and for many years at the Manchester Metropolitan University where he was Professor in the Department of English and its ... read more
    Awards won by Jeffrey Wainwright Short-listed, 2017 Arnold Bennett Book Prize (What Must Happen )
    Praise for Jeffrey Wainwright 'In Wainwright's philosophising lies a questioning, experimental and playful essence hidden in household objects, imaginary ships and childhood homes [...] As Best We Can contains delicate balances'

    Ben Ray, Oxford Review of Books

    'As Best We Can is a defining poetic moment of 2020.'

    Steve Whittaker, Yorkshire Times

     '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'
    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.'
    John Whale
    'Jeffrey Wainwright's work is among the most interesting of any poet now writing'
    The Guardian
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