A convert to Catholicism, he employed the scepticism he had learned at Oxford, and the language of science, to explore the state of the modern soul. It is a yard where someone once harboured short-lived ambitions to raise aquatic plants. Edgelands, co-written with Michael Symmons Roberts, received the Royal Society of Literature's Jerwood Award and the 2011 Foyles Best Book of Ideas Award and was serialised as Radio 4 Book of the Week. Most of us had the first cigarette there as well as the first teenage kiss. The normal rules do not apply there — sometimes there are no rules at all. I could relate my childhood in Dublin much more to what was described in the book. Thursday 15 March 2012 Michael Symmons Roberts is a poet, librettist and novelist.
In recent years there have been several books by writers and commentators going in search of England as it is today, of which those by and spring readily to mind. This book is in a sense the 21st century equivalent. Coming from the industrial North West, they exhibit a refreshing disdain for the current vogue for the conventional wilderness. Edgelands forms a critique of what we value as 'wild', and allows our allotments, railways, motorways, wasteland and water a presence in the world, and a strange beauty all of their own. Passed through, negotiated, unnamed, unacknowledged: the edgelands — those familiar yet ignored spaces which are neither city nor countryside — have become the great wild places on our doorsteps. He remains one of the few poets in Britain who are writing overtly religious poetry in a way that engages with modern tropes, and modern doubt. This makes the edge lands fairly well defined.
The tanks are still there, smothered by nettles and brambles, the black water spotted with pond weed. Where the writing is consistently high-quality, the structural design is less successful. I am frequently asked, by city visitors, if it works. It is a shame though that a book so visual in its content, and one that invokes a host of artists and photographers who have interpreted the edgelands, has no illustrations. This is Roberts' most expansive writing yet: mystical, philosophical, earthy and elegiac. I suspect the authors wrote it because they wanted us to look at these strange places in a new way.
As far as I'm concerned, in these 260-odd pages they have certainly succeeded. Novelists can be stable, savvy, politically adept and in control, but poets should be melancholic, doomed and self-destructive. And then to consider ideas about the death of the author that we associate with Roland Barthes. In my west Cork island garden, old machines are stripped down and made, with the help of willing grandchildren, into garden sculptures. Farley and Roberts are always entertaining and illuminating, gentle guides and quixotic questers. He broadcasts regularly on radio and presents The Echo Chamber on Radio 4. I feel this ignited my love of recycling which I practise to this day.
I never see children playing in any of these areas other than the designated playing fields. To notice the edgelands is to risk ruining them. More people arrived and a wall was built. In the same way the Romantic writers taught us to look at hills, lakes and rivers, poets Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts write about mobile masts and gravel pits, business parks and landfill sites, taking the reader on a journey to marvel at these richly mysterious, forgotten regions in our midst. He also writes: If I believed the soul was separate from the body I might describe myself As the soul of my clothes.
From now on every word you use is plucked from nowhere. . From an encomium to a karaoke booth to a conjuration of an inverse Antarctica, this collection is a compelling, powerful search for meaning, truth and falsehood. Equally at ease with scripture Jacob wrestling the Angel in 'Choreography' and science 'Mapping the Genome' , these poems are a thrilling blend of modern and ancient wisdom, a profound and lyrical exploration of the mysteries of the body:' So the martyrs took the lamb. He came to major attention with his fourth collection, Corpus, which deals with the limitations and metaphorical power of corporeal life, and scientific means of conveying the ineffable. Edgelands The wilderness is much closer than you think. The authors discuss an England in the process of reclaiming quiet spaces from the increasingly encroaching built-up, tarmaced-over land which used to be countryside, from their perspective of having grown up on the edge of Liverpool and Manchester respectively, in the early 1970s, when they could walk for only a short distance and find themselves lost in back lanes or waste ground, be it following the perimeters of a golf course, or a path leading through scratchy shrubland.
Where does this leave our authors? I also wished they had sacrificed one or two of the more peripheral items — the weather, perhaps, or retail — to dwell more on the authentic edgeland features. Jonathan Cape Mancunia is both a real and an unreal city. Is this just a myth, or is there some essential truth behind it: that great poems only come when a poet's life is pushed right to an emotional knife-edge of acceptability, safety, security? An old, dismantled, tractor has become a sculpture in homage to a loved, now deceased, neighbour. Vain enterprise, indeed, to be human. Apparently, the Midlands' success in producing heavy metal bands can be credited largely to the members of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin being brought up to the sound of the car industry with its sheets of steel being stamped and hammered into shape by vast machinery.
This is an unusual book. Deaths of the Poets is highly readable, informative and resonating with a literary hinterland. Summary: A poetic look at that land which is not quite urban, nor yet countryside. He has received major awards from the Arts Council and the Society of Authors. It comes as something of a relief to move on from such subjects as sewage, landfill and containers to allotments, lofts and buddleias, or butterfly bushes, imported from South America and self-seeded across large swathes of unchecked, uncultivated land around towns and cities, not to mention gardens.
Vintage The wilderness is much closer than you think. Our thanks to Jonathan Cape for sending a copy to Bookbag. I wish I had written this book but feel the authors did a much better job. The book chronicles — that is not too strong a word — the darker elements of physical life, the limitations of the flesh, and its transcendence, and in so doing gives them a life of the spirit. It describes neatly the places on the margins of our supposedly civilised world that most of us hurry past or overlook or deliberately turn our backs on.
Jonathan Cape Michael Symmons Roberts' sixth - and most ambitious collection to date - takes its name from the ancient trade in powders, chemicals, salts and dyes, paints and cures. And communion with each other is another corporeal route to the spirit. There are many similarities but also many differences. This was a clothing factory. A fatigue sets in for both writers and reader, as we take in yet another tragedy — outcomes of contractual commitments appearing to being played out, rather than the authors trying to prove an over-arching hypothesis.