In this latest collection of poems, Hill invokes people and place, mythologizing and demythologizing city lives as they are led. From poignant vignettes and celebrations to urban-pastoral and elegy, these poems extend Hill’s romance with London’s psychic and surreal fabric. Selected as a Next Generation poet, Hill continues to delight us with sensuous observation and imaginative embrace.
“Hill’s special territory, in poetry and prose, is the ‘urban-pastoral’ ... his native North London is transformed, with many deftly dark touches, into an uneasy realm of the imagination. Hill clearly appreciated Simon Armitage’s storytelling persona; he also drew upon observation of the natural world in ways associated with Ted Hughes. Much of his imagery is by turns delicately ‘Japanese’, or reminiscent of the heyday of Craig Raine’s ‘Martian’ style. Hill has a romantic dimension in his work that is all his own. As a young man with an intense curiosity about the world, his work is full of sensual images, vignettes of city life – and romance ... these are poems of flirtation and desire.”
“The closeup detail taken directly from nature, then skewed through 90° to give the reader something completely new, even unique ... with this third collection, Hill promises to be a real force in poetry, displaying an utterly contemporary understanding of how nature continues to work.”
“There is a fin de siècle decadence about them ... not least in their brightly coloured diction, their luxuriant descriptiveness, their louche postures.”
“Superb conjurations of place.”
—Adam Mars Jones
“Compassionate and intelligent ... so full of action and interest and that brings alive such an array of people and places, that it is difficult to believe they sprang from the pen of one writer.”
‘In lucid narrative manner Tobias Hill celebrates cosmopolitan London as a location for the affections. The city is presented as a functioning organism – a sub-class of nature – full of observed detail in development. The rhythms owe something to Eliot but the mood is more Cockayne than Purgatory, the imagery more Robert Doisneau than Robert Frank, the precision more Louis MacNeice than Philip Larkin. London in Nocturne in Chrome & Sunset Yellow is an object of love with the shadow of 7/7 hanging over it, the poetry touching it gently, curiously and carefully with full awareness of its fragility.’ —George Szirtes
‘In careful rhythms, the 21 poems of this British poet's fourth collection describe the “collision” of opposites that Londoners and other city dwellers live with daily: e.g., the city’s smell of “Peking duck and piss.” Repo-men and aging chess players, pigeons and Chinese supermarkets, sidewalk preachers and railway station bars all populate these neat stanzas. While echoing Larkin in his desire to look unflinchingly, Hill is ultimately more optimistic about the human condition. Many poems insist on some kind of sweetness, even a lost one, as in the penultimate section of “A Year in London,” a poem with a section for each month; after suggesting bombs falling, the poem ends with fireworks: “[a]nd all that brilliance was ours / in our dreams that night.” Hill also sounds at times like Frost, another polestar for plainspoken poets: describing a young couple fixing up an abandoned house, he writes, “[a]ll this was years ago. And now you’re here, / the two of you scything the bittersweet.” Occasionally, what Hill (Zoo, 1998) encounters in the contemporary world is so awful that only silence or disbelief are appropriate: “[t]he death toll mounts every morning. / It grows unspeakable.”’ —Publishers Weekly
‘What Hill reveals to us in this vital, luminous collection is that 200 years later, collision is still the city's essential state. In a book-length love song to the fabulousness and ragged beauty of his native London, he considers the city through the lattice of physical and metaphorical dialectics – nature and manufacture, wealth and poverty, glamour and grime – that bring it to life. [...] It is rare to come across a collection of poetry that you know with certainty you will still be reading years from now, but for me, this is such a book.’ —Sarah Crown
‘Salt has a real winner in Tobias Hill’s Nocturne in Chrome & Sunset Yellow . . . of your preference is for a poetry you share in, enter into imaginatively, then Hill is your man . . . bringing London to life sensuously, giving it a real cosmopolitan lived-in feel.’ —Matt Simpson
‘Tobias Hill’s new collection announces its arrival as one such London-loving book from the first poem, written in a historical fiction genre. You can't help cheering the lust for life. [...] in one striking poem, ‘Repossession’, there's a marrying of storytelling (or backstory telling) with Hill’s engaging conversational style. Surprisingly I think of Edward Thomas here. Like several of Thomas’s poems, this is a text about depopulation and the casual, almost intimate rhythm, is especially effective.’ —Richard Price
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