If you can imagine William Blake playing Scrabble with Joni Mitchell, Catherine of Aragon booking into the Holiday Inn, or Cassius Clay meeting the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus, you’re ready for the dreamworld created by Aidan Semmens in The Jazz Age. After five books of intense – some would say difficult – poetry, he has produced something more accessible, surprising, and fun. In a series of prose vignettes he casts an array of historical figures into times and places other than their own, playing on anachronism and dislocation to surreal, witty, frequently comic, occasionally poignant or disturbing effect. Each brief episode is crystalline, the whole piece theatrical, enjoyably absurd. You might identify a questioning of belief systems, of social hierarchy, of human individuality and inter-relationship – but essentially this is, as it is billed, entertainment.
‘Aidan Semmens is a poet who has always been fearless in confronting the plight of the world with its disturbed ways and this volume is no exception.’ —Geraldine Monk
‘There’s an exuberance of the poet in full stride. Typically, the phrasing and imagery are seductive and of the physical world being lived. Learning is carried lightly, erudition not pushed at the reader but drawn into the lyricism.’ —Kelvin Corcoran
‘What runs through this book, like Brighton rock, is a traditional, yet questioning, and taut lyricism, a poetry of argument in the voice of smouldering outrage.’ —Simon Smith