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Zoo is Tobias Hill’s third collection of poems. It shows the growing maturity of a voice already distinctive three years ago, when his first collection was noted for its ‘grand irony and playful humour, with episodes of tenderness and even charm’.
Hill’s poems combine narrative impetus with musical lyricism. Influenced by the poetry of Japan and the paintings of Edward Hopper, they are full of intense sound, smell, and visions, Often through a nocturnal eye, Hill describes an urban-pastoral landscape, full of the greenhouse luxuriance of city flora, fauna and humanity.
“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.”