Heat Wave is a form of poetic cabaret,‘What good is sitting, alone in your room?/ come hear the music play!’ If a cabaret is full of high jinks it can also land punches – truth can be masked by the burlesque and the grotesque: ‘Tell all the truth but tell it slant’.
Luke Kennard has said of Stannard’s writing, ‘I know of few other poets who can write of cruelty, hysteria and disappointment with such levity and grace.’ Will Eaves speaks of a ‘comic vitality’. Heat Wave seeks to unsettle and wrong-foot; it refuses to adopt a sententious or holier than thou attitudes regarding the many crises which confront us. The poems subvert as well as entertain.
Critics have noted ‘a tonal control and simultaneous considerations of matters mordant and gleeful.’ The reader might weep and laugh on the same page. The lyrical and the demotic might walk hand in hand.
‘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
‘The depth charge at work in Stannard’s every electric sentence makes him one of the most distinctive British poets working today.’ —Deborah Levy
‘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
‘In a style that recalls Frederick Seidel, Stannard delights in taunting the precious or moralistic reader by plunging them into a world of privilege, bathos and casual iniquity.’ —Dai George, The Poetry Review
‘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