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So Jack's your man, Jack is your man in things.
And he must come along, and he must stay
close, be quick and right, your little cousin
Jack, a step ahead, deep in the hedge, on
edge, a kiss a rim, at pinch, in place, turn
face and tip a brim, each inch of him, the
folded leaf, the important straw. What for.
He's slippery and hot ...
from 'Man Jack'
"Langley is one of poetry's best kept secrets. This wonderfully inventive collection, bursting with linguistic exuberance, should bring him to the attention of the wider audience that he deserves."
-The Judges of the Whitbread Poetry Award
Collected Poems is a slim-seeming volume, containing material from Roger Langley's two pamphlet collections, Man Jack and Twelve Poems, as well as new and unpublished material. Langley's work is copious in what it provides us poem by poem: the pleasures of form, syntax and rhythm are such that, as in the poetry of Wallace Stevens, in the enchantment we are hardly aware of the serious demands that are being made; in reading him we learn to see and feel language differently. It is no surprise to learn that he is interested in natural history, in particular arachnology.
Large webs, long poems - 'Juan Fernandez' and 'Matthew Glover', for example, celebrated among the dedicated 'alternative' readership Langley's work has long enjoyed - are interleaved with shorter pieces, and all are carried by the seriously playful, at times terse but never severe or self-regarding, verse of an accomplished and assured poet. His abstemiousness is part of a complex and beguiling integrity.
Awards won by R.F. Langley Short-listed, 2016 East Anglian Book Awards (Complete Poems ) Short-listed, 2000 Whitbread Prize (Complete Poems )
'The quality of Langley's writing is extraordinary. On first reading I found myself bolt upright, the book falling from my hands as his poetry tore through me.'
Randolph Healey Praise for R.F. Langley 'I recommend you read R.F. Langley's magnificent poems, and his prose journals too, sparingly and for the rest of your life, as you might read a book of meditations'
'Ghostly Mentor', Claire Crowther. 'R.F. Langley's Complete Poems (Carcanet), edited by Jeremy Noel-Tod, preserves the work of a comparatively neglected figure, who died in 2011 and whose reputation is bound to rise. It's not a log book, but every single poem is exceptionally watchful and scrupulous. A life's work, to last its readers a lifetime'
The Guardian, 28.11.2015. '[R.F. Langley} was attentive to the natural world and to the textures of the English language, and his Complete Poems is a gem of a book'
Paul Batchelor, Times Literary Supplement, 27.11.2015.
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