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John Siddique is a poet who wants you to read his work, his writing isn’t a puzzle you have to figure out. Gathered in these pages is the work of an artist who believes in stories – our stories.
From the domestic realities of everyday life to a world distraught with crises and confrontation Recital looks at our lives over the space of a year. Drawing on inspiration from Grave’s ‘White Goddess,’ Siddique’s book uses the lunar cycle to tap into the intimate relations of the modern soul; our doubts, hesitations and need for meaning.
Glimpses of inspiration from Larkin, Cummings and Neruda inform the poetry here, but Siddique’s own voice takes those ways of looking at the world and sets out stories of who we are right now in the 21st century.
In a time when so many consider poetry to be of little relevance, here is a writer and a book that has never been more relevant to the questions of today and the people we are. Yet it is with a sensuous and loving eye that Siddique writes about secrets that we almost dare not think about. He reveals the quest for love and the spiritual meaning that underpins us.
‘John Siddique is an accomplished writer across several genres, but his fourth collection of poetry 'Recital: an Almanac' demonstrates his considerable range within this form has not lessened. Politically alert, he is also a gifted and adventurous love-poet bringing the Japanese art of bondage, Shibari, into Erato's northern court for surely the first time; an excellent nature poet, he writes equally well of childhood, friendship and loss. His work shows an international awareness enriched by an Islamic-Catholic heritage, which must account to some extent for the humour that sparkles through this marvellous book. Anyone interested in the fascinating cross-fertilisation of poetries now revitalising the literature of these islands must read it.’ —Ian Duhig
‘On love, loss and hope, these poems are imbued with a beautiful, tender melancholia.’ —Bernardine Evaristo
‘As John Siddique reminds us in his extraordinary new collection, life unfolds whether or not we choose to participate in the “future histories” being created at every moment. The poems in this book form a literary chronograph for survival, echoing life’s ticking clock while inviting us to stop and observe the moments before they pass. The book’s two related purposes are conveyed in its title. As a recital, these poems masterfully name and celebrate the glorious panorama of intimate yet communal subjects and objects that infuse experience with meaning—a classic role for poetry rendered utterly new in these pages. As an almanac, the poems meticulously catalogue relationships, events, natural phenomena and experiences into measured moments. In this irreplaceable collection, John Siddique creates a time-line for evaporating memories, observations and sensations, and reveals life’s potential to be a hidden gallery.’ —Lauri Ramey
‘John Siddique's poetry takes the reader on a journey, crossing the border country between love and loss, he charts his family's untold stories. Interested in exploring opposite worlds and seeming contradictions, his poetry is a brilliant balancing act. Sometimes steamy, often moving, The Prize is a bold, brave book with a big, open heart.’ —Jackie Kay
‘John Siddique's writing is playful and poignant. It explores the complexities of a fragmented world – of sex, family, loss and dream-life – with such clear-eyed, unsentimental candour that I go back to certain poems time and again for another immersion. He's not afraid of writing about love, its pain and rewards, its sudden, shocking forces and darkly funny epiphanies – and his poems demonstrate a generosity and humanity so often lacking in more brittle, defensive writers.’ —Catherine Smith
‘His knowledge and love of poetry shines through.’ —Rachel Feldberg
‘ohn Siddique is a powerful, arresting and provocative new poetic voice, on the page, and off it. He writes with a rare combination of directness, ease, and authority and transports his audience through a gallery of moods and registers in just as wide a range of forms. His work is visceral, sensuous, searing, playful, and deeply moving.’ —Gavin Wallace
‘John Siddique is one of Britain's most interesting and original poets. He probes the contradictory jumble of contemporary Britain revealing the daily heroism and bravery of the urban sprawl that he clearly knows well.’ —Elizabeth Rosa Horan