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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 yatcht; and an unnerving encounter with a coypu.
‘Ian Gregson’s work is remarkable in combining a postmodernist’s sense of ‘things being various’ with a traditionalist’s concern for shape and completeness. These poems are utterly contemporary in their relish of popular culture, daring in their treatment of the slippery politics of business and literature, and coolly haunting as they manoeuvre in and out of the marginalised lyric centres of private love and mourning. Like a twenty-first century MacNeice, Gregson yokes pluralities and polyphonies with a wiry formal line, and creates poetry that is strongly centred. Though he adopts many identities, the voice is always his own: intellectually challenging but sensuous, immediate and approachable. Track these calls and watch the connections scintillate.’ —Carol Rumens
‘Here’s an independent voice – fearless I'd say, but vulnerable. Gregson’s a connoisseur of neuroses – including his own – and a wily chronicler of what we don’t mean to say when we strive to communicate. There's wit here and a bashful playfulness but what I value most in these poems is a remembrance of how a child sees the world, and how that vision darkens and decays.’ —Robert Minhinnick