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Shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize
Shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Memorial Prize
This remarkable debut sees tales of treachery, guilt and love play out against the whole canvas of history. Empires rise and fall; the beasts of Britain stalk from the age of Rome to the new age of austerity; heroes and villains take their stands on the Sussex Downs and on the Pennines, from the Death Star to Dancing on Ice. A courageous study of the violence and beauty of belonging, this book also celebrates what really endures: the lure of power, the pain of betrayal, the solace of family and home. Vividly imagined and critically acclaimed, this is poetry for now and for years to come.
‘The astonishingly-accomplished debut of a poet who will surely take his place among the very best of his generation.’ —Ian Duhig
‘For its energy of expression, fearlessness and sheer verbal beauty, Sins of the Leopard is a magnificent debut’ —David Morley
‘In Brookes’s hands, “Britain is real again”, suddenly lit up by the fierce glint of a scouring intelligence.’ —Andrew McCulloch
‘James Brookes writes a wonderfully rich and achieved poetry which reminds me our very best practitioners such as Geoffrey Hill and David Harsent. His profound knowledge of the resources of English history and its protean language does not, however, mean he works with a restricted scope; it is a grounding for his investigation of the world's strange treasurehouse conducted with such a challenging and imaginative musical power it is hard to believe that 'Sins of the Leopard' is his first full collection.’ —Ian Duhig
‘James Brookes, a recent Gregory Award winner, gets graphically muscular purchase on the bloody business of English history in his impressive debut … In Brookes’s hands, “Britain is real again”, suddenly lit up by the fierce glint of a scouring intelligence, brought grippingly alive in a language that combines Anglo-Saxon clout with Latinate gravitas. This is in every sense a generous book from a generously gifted young poet.’ —Andrew McCulloch
‘The weight of each line here, each clause and syllable, is perfectly judged. That phrase ‘dirigible angel’ is a mark of Brookes’ talent – it is at once lyrical, sonically logical and completely surprising. There is a strictness too, strongly evoking the poetry of Geoffrey Hill, as well as a playfulness more reminiscent of Paul Muldoon at his riddling best.’ —Tom Chivers