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Wilkinson’s searing classic, Proud Flesh, is a blistering journal of love’s intensities and convulsions. Panning across its characters like a camera, this is lyric poetry as film noire, filled with jealousy, violence and sexual obsession. Incandescent images and language play across the bodies of the lovers, each caught, frame by frame, in an intense act of surveillance.
‘Proud Flesh introduced us to the unexpected fluencies, the strange dramas and practicalities of John Wilkinson’s poetry. Reminding us that poetry also needs to be pitted against conventional forms of intelligibility – the finding of a ‘voice’, the satisfactions of narrative – Wilkinson was already writing a haunting, unheard of lyric poetry against the grain of the taught traditions. A startling and eerily accomplished book, Proud Flesh has become a great contemporary text.’ —Adam Phillips