Julian Stannard has been described as the poet of cabaret. His poems sing and weep in equal measure; a poetry of wretchedness and hilarity, of discombobulation and the bizarre. In his new collection a dead brother returns on a white horse, a musical stag slips off to New York, the Kray Twins reappear, a summer pudding is carried across a heath, a pair of buttocks escapes their owner, a couple makes love on a rain-soaked stoop, the Mongols catapult concubines over the parapets, a dead friend walks out of his grave like a twenty-first century Lazarus, a blind boy breaks into the Kelvingrove Gallery and makes off with Salvador Dali’s crucifixion, Ezra Pound – half fish, half man – rises to the surface of the Venetian lagoon, and after ten years in the Cicada Lunatic Asylum the narrator finds peace in the Umbrian town of Bastardo.
Please Don’t Bomb the Ghost of my Brother is international in scope and tirelessly ludic. The poems engage with the Covid pandemic, the war in Ukraine and personal loss. Stannard’s poems sing and weep in equal measure: a poetry of wretchedness and hilarity, of discombobulation and the bizarre, mindful of lacerating loss and the redemptive power of strangeness, a special type of humour. They supply a feast of stories.
‘Imagine 'Carry on Rilke', or Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal reworked as an end of the pier pantomime, and you get something of the flavour of Stannard's brilliant new collection. The mysterious poems are darkly funny, and the funny poems are disconcertingly mysterious. I can think of no better companion to have at your side as civilisation's walls collapse and the world spins crazily from its axis.’ —Alan Bilton
‘Channeling Gogol’s Dead Souls, Julian Stannard’s Please Don’t Bomb The Ghost Of My Brother takes us into cities made aslant by the ridiculousness of death. His characters are at once unmoored and liberated, in a Monty Python-esque purgatory where a wink could be a suggestion, an invitation – or the end. These are poems that know that grief and comedy are both sides of the same surreal coin, spinning wildly through the sky.’ —Rishi Dastidar
‘Julian Stannard is a one-off. His poems are magnificent riffs on the canon and the cartoon, the whole kit and caboodle of popular culture (only Stannard could rhyme ‘Google’ with ‘Gogol’). He has always walked a perilous tightrope between the frivolous and the fearful, and in this new book, the spectre of death is never far beneath the smooth surface of urban flâneury. The book kicks off in lockdown and concludes with a sequence of poems which act as an extended plea for safety in an unsafe world. An essential book for our surreal times.’ —Tamar Yoseloff
‘At his best, Stannard is a very fine poet with an apparently nonchalant style that allows him to be pointed but never vicious, ironic but never smug, considered but never sententious ... The finest poems here are at once deadly serious and humanely silly.’ —Rory Waterman, Times Literary Supplement
‘The poetry of Julian Stannnard is a fresh and delectable pleasure because he is a flâneur without alienation, a wit whose sharpness comes at nobody’s expense, and a gourmand with a gleeful sense of mortality.’ —Don Share
‘There’s an air of luxurious melancholy about these poems, a languid play of feelings and associations, that sets them wholly against the uptight, earnest strain in British writing and that appeals to me warmly.’ —Christopher Reid
‘Like Frank O’Hara, Stannard can shift from breathless joy to heartbreak without warning ... one of the most unabashedly entertaining bodies of work in contemporary British poetry.’ —Declan Ryan
‘Few poets alive today can discuss telemarketing, commuting and the current state of academia – among other subjects – with Stannard’s levity and panache. Heat Wave finds him at the peak of his enviable powers. He is eminently re-readable and instantly addictive.’ —André Naffis-Sahely
‘Heat Wave, Julian Stannard’s eighth collection, is a Book of Lamentations, or Exclamations, by way of Gavin Ewart and Gogol. Some of these poems are sad, and full of the horrors of ignored history – dictators in snooker halls, the “Zombie Riviera”, personal lessons unlearned – but all of them burn with comic vitality, all of them express outrage of one kind or another, often very tenderly, and all of them speak the truth.’ —Will Eaves
‘Julian Stannard is a poet who understands the power of satire deployed as political art. Gleefully European in scope and allusion, these surreal and crisply ludic poems are irrepressible protest songs of our time.’ —Karen McCarthy-Woolf
‘When I read Julian Stannard’s joyous, generous, astute poems, I bubble up with an overwhelming desire to share them, even with complete strangers. I love this collection.’ —Lara Pawson
‘This is a brilliant collection, endlessly rich, strange and funny, blessed with a unique voice that is both instantly unmistakable, and yet capable of boundless elasticity. Locked down on Brexit Island, Heat Wave is the most perfectly unreliable companion anyone could wish for.’ —Alan Bilton, Ambit Magazine