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‘The poems in Effigies Against the Light have the qualities of improvising with materials at hand and of formal complexity which also might distinguish cultures dispersing and re-resolving through exile – one of the book's major themes. Similarly these poems can be direct in emotional impact whilst remaining unaccountable.’
‘John Wilkinson’s Effigies Against the Light for its sheer verbal inventiveness and unheard-of melodies made much contemporary poetry seem straightforwardly pedestrian.’ —Adam Phillips, The Observer
‘This book by one of the most intellectually demanding and politically engaged of contemporary English poets, suggests that the differences between some versions of modernism and postmodernism might be nil. The political content of Wilkinson’s work distinguishes it from the xenophobic high modernism of the English tradition. The section “Chalone” at the start of the book begins with an examination of the continuing legacy of the plantation system; where some moderns mourn the coming of modernity, Wilkinson (in “Reserved”) admonishes us to “watch things spring apart, &/ know with a blank chill/ they ought to.” Yet Wilkinson also refuses a reactionary postmodernism that simply spits capital’s fetishes back at it: “Here is amber, here is pitch to smear your arms, salve lips,/ tallow to stuff resounding ears. You stand like flypaper./ You hold a trowel & with it you daub every lost saying.” Though bombarded, linguistically and otherwise, Wilkinson’s speaker continues to self-construct, rather than destruct.’ —Publishers Weekly
‘The speed of this writing, its kinetic movement “like a run-time virus”, derives from the extraordinary scope of its inclusions. This is not the low-risk inclusiveness of semiotic playtime, but the propagation of strings of significance among the resistant data of moment and location. Difficult of access, but no less difficult of egress, the poetry in this volume makes unflinching demands on the reader, demands that repay slowly but in abundance. Reader, I was crushed and exhilarated.’ —Jeremy Green, Chicago Review
‘Some of Wilkinson’s poems still seem to me like white noise, like information rapidly and promiscuously flooding my attention; but I do not believe that they will necessarily continue to. Others do offer me precisely that sense of the bearing, the bearable and the beautiful; and although, for good reasons, that state is almost untranscribable, and not automatically reproducible in identical fashion for every reader, it is something one looks for in art, and is privileged to encounter.’ —Robert Potts, The Guardian
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