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Exploding with Carnivalesque and antic energy, The Fool and the Physician shows the formal range and wit of Andy Brown’s poetry, from traditional lyric forms such as pantoums, sonnets and ballads, to paradelles, prayers, prose poems, and many playful devices inspired by the authors of the OuLiPo.
The poems center on the figure of the Clown and the Fool, exploring the meanings and associations attached to these characters. In part one, clowns career into space, up to heaven, knock at our front doors and expound upon the end of the world. The second half of the book is based on some of the remarkable paintings of Hieronymus Bosch – from direct responses to his works, to personal poems, or the more tangential approaches such as the densely erotic Garden of Earthly Delights – playing off Bosch’s extraordinary representations of fools and visions of human folly.
‘Lyrical precision and infinite jest, as funny and curious as it is poignant and moving. These are poems that teach us there is no dignity but in recognising our own ludicrousness; they teach us to drop our pretences and relax; then they pie us in the face.’ —Luke Kennard
‘Vivid and tangible, there is a real wit that at times makes me laugh out loud, a true learning, and a gentle humanity to these tender-hearted poems.’ —Lee Harwood
‘Andy Brown is one of our most interesting and exciting younger poets. With its love of ideas and language, his work demonstrates that there need be no barriers in poetry; that the philosophical, the lyrical and the playful can be combined in work of assured and generous vision.’ —John Burnside