In his long-awaited first collection, Ian Gregson probes life as we know it, faulty,
finicky, sensual and at times beautifully redemptive. Packed with wit and wisdom,
Gregson’s poetry has long been admired as it spanned the pages of many major journals;
here, at last, he delivers the goods in a superb and impressive debut.
SHORT-LISTED FOR THE FELIX DENNIS BEST FIRST COLLECTION PRIZE (FORWARD PRIZES FOR
POETRY 2006). This is a collection of poems by a writer who is fully aware of the
complexities of modernist and postmodernist poetry and is able to draw upon them
when they are useful, but who aims to be as accessible as possible, and to approach
urgent personal and political themes directly. He employs a wide range of forms (including,
for example, free verse and ottava rima) and a wide range of genres (including dramatic
monologue, narrative and lyric) in order to disrupt stale expectations and to avoid
acquiring a ‘voice’ – and all the earnest, narcissistic wind associated with that.
The speakers of the poems include a call centre worker who falls in love with a client;
an aristocratic Englishman cast by Hollywood as a villain; a retired Civil War general;
a Victorian rambler unsettled by an Anglesey copper mine; Thomas the Tank Engine
with an identity crisis; a stalker; a housewife scanning the personal columns; a
sex guru; and Superman and Lois Lane. One poem takes the form of voices on an answerphone,
another of a text message.
The themes of the poems include Venetian political history; a driver who falls asleep
at the wheel; The Creature from the Black Lagoon; fear of vasectomy; a police detective
on the trail of a pair of murders; contemporary pagans; a man who is diagnosed with
a terminal illness who, without telling anyone, sails away in his yacht; and an unnerving
encounter with a coypu.