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Not Everything Remotely is the widest-ranging gathering of Halsey’s poems to date. Some have not previously been published while many appeared in fugitive editions and collections now out of print. It brings together poems which slowly developed into broadly-related sequences such as the verse-letters begun in 1979 as communiques from the Welsh border and continued into the ’90s tracking the savageries of the Thatcher years. It also collects his ‘emblem’ poems, in which traditional devices are reworked within the modernist perspective; these and other short poems veer between political epigram and an Ars Poetica. Of his recent work there is a selection from the sequence in progress A Looking-Glass for Logoclasts. Halsey’s poems often draw on familiar forms of discourse such as the financial, philosophical and journalistic, set alongside the specialist and marginal vocabularies used in such studies as linguistics, ufology and the paranormal; they may or may not be a satire which is enacted ‘in the absence of a validated hierarchy of discourse’ (Tim Woods).
‘Wittgenstein’s Devil showcases work that exhilaratingly explores language and ideology, running different jargons and discourses together, playfully using near- and half-rhyme to explore difference and identity, in a poetry of passionate and stoical resistance.’ —Robert Potts, The Guardian
‘Wittgenstein’s Devil is essential reading for anyone interested in what has been happening in British poetry in the last thirty years.’ —David Kennedy, PN Review
‘The few attempts I’ve seen at dealing with his work seem to throw their hands up and regard him as a force of nature. I think I can agree with that. His writings are the dark side of the moon, and reading them from the front isn’t very profitable.’ —Michael Peverett
‘Pure intelligence of various means of departure, refined and sharpened up, exactly located, appropriately geared, and cutting right into ore as we dream. Here is a normally secret and invisible antiquarian language spy, print-mining insect, lizard watcher and dovetailed pistachio piss taker, book dealer and forger, editor and printer’s devil, emblem inventor, chiastic satirist, light-fingered anti-lyricist, lingering among the keywords and search engines. It is maybe the last real sense we’ll get about how we got to the late last days of New Labour and it is our poetry, in English, not at all what is usually packaged and put out around here.’ —Tony Lopez, Stride
‘On Marginalien: ‘This is a truly exhilarating volume, delphic and intractable in places, in other parts limpid and lyrical … In the end, one is brought back to Halsey’s enormous respect for words and their antonyms, echoes, ghost histories, spectral futures. He continues to create a kabbalah of cultural signs, a dictionary of linguistic possibilities, a stylish verbal music, in his essential role as courteous gadfly.’ —Paul Merchant, Chicago Review