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These poems are preoccupied with stories, the nature of memory, and identity. Many are love poems. From Kidderminster to Paris via Swansea and the Antarctic, taking in a Viennese café and the mysterious Planet X, the work comes close to the edge but remains sure-footed. Things aren’t what they seem: background becomes foreground, the periphery and the hidden snap into focus, and ‘the photographs on the mantelpiece pull themselves together’. If these poems were an accident, they’d be a train crash: survivors would come round in a different country, dust off their clothes, barely recognise themselves or each other. The poems are in charge of the remote and make full use of it: a Sunday afternoon in suburbia cuts to a journal of polar exploration. Events unfold simultaneously, casting strange lights on each other. Parallel worlds? time travel? or the way in which memories stand beside experience, nudging and colouring it, transforming it into something new and exraordinary. Janet Fisher describes the work as ‘a sort of martial art: it stands there looking slight and friendly but in reality it's using the reader's own strength against herself till she ends up flat on the mat not knowing what's hit her.’ These poems draw you in, again and again. Compelling, tender and provocative; acutely observed and seriously funny.
‘Cliff Yates is one of my favourite poets, writing in an idiom I’d like to call ‘Skelmersdale Mystic/Domestic’ if he was in a band that band would produce hit singles that would linger in your head for years and if he was a greengrocer his vegetables would always be startling shapes. There’s childhood here, and love, and a way of seeing the world with the wrappers off that is, ultimately, Yatesian.’ —Ian McMillan
‘Cliff Yates is one of our best poets. His poems are among the most exciting, challenging and unpredictable of any being written now or for donkey's years.’ —Peter Sansom
‘A sort of martial art: it stands there looking slight and friendly but in reality it's using the reader's own strength against herself till she ends up flat on the mat not knowing what's hit her.’ —Janet Fisher
‘Philosophy runs smudged into daily life … he offers us the surprise borne of unconstrained freedom … that combination of precision with the seemingly random that gives this short collection such expansive range.’ —Ben Felsenburg, Incwriters
‘Yates is an absolute master … he stretches and dares you to properly understand what you are reading. He makes you want to read and re-read his work.…. Technically stunning and always there are more questions than answers.’ —Steve Anderson, New Hope International
‘If you like poetry firmly rooted in the real world, the everyday, this is not the book for you. You will be seduced into thinking it is, because everyday situations seem to be what is being described, but you will soon find that prisms and mirrors, flashbacks and flash-forwards, parallel universes etc. come into play. You are never where you think you are, which for me is one of the purposes of poetry.’ —Lyn Moir, Sphinx Chapbook Review Magazine
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