Sean O’Brien’s new collection November arrives on the scene 4 years after his award-winning last collection, The Drowned Book, which won both the Forward and T S Eliot prizes in 2007. Chosen by the PBS Selectors as the Choice book for the Summer Quarter, this collection has received considerable enthusiastic press coverage. Paul Batchelor, in The Guardian on 7th May, writes that November "contains his most doubting and vulnerable poems to date". He goes on; "O’Brien’s imaginative reach has grown, making him impossible to pin down" but concludes that it is "the gentler, more lyrical note that makes November an artistic triumph". Kate Kellaway meanwhile, writing in The Observer on 10th April, describes the collection as "masterly" and O’Brien as "pitch-perfect, never swanks" and "amazingly versatile". Like Batchelor, she notes its elegiac tone, identifying the "restraint that shapes this writing and stirs our hearts". Fiona Sampson writing in The Independent on 29th April, describes the collection as "a volume that addresses both personal bereavement and the collective loss of social values".
The word 'subversive’ crops up in reviews of Wendy Cope’s latest collection Family Values, which is also one of the PBS Summer Recommendations. Christina Patterson writing in The Independent on 8th April is keen to point out that Wendy Cope’s poetry amounts to significantly more than the ‘light verse’ label it has often attracted, commending Cope as "technically … highly accomplished" and her poems in this collection as "electric with emotion". Helen Dunmore writing in The Times on 2nd April is also mindful of Cope’s "technical brilliance" but is more impressed with "the ease with which form and content become one in her poems". Dunmore hails the collection as "funny, melancholy and devastatingly observant". Sarah Wardle writing in The Guardian on 23rd April finds a collection which is full of "love and compassionate humour" in which Cope "challenges conventional family values and lays bare her own difficult childhood". Rivka Isaacson pays the most creative tribute to Wendy Cope in The Independent on 24th April by providing her review in the form of a pantoum, in which she champions Cope as a ‘National Treasure’ when "strangers smile at the book I’m reading".
Being Human is the last in the anthology trilogy from Bloodaxe Books which began with Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times, published in 2002. Sarah Crown writing in The Guardian on 14th May defines this latest anthology as "rich and rewarding", due in no small part to its editor, Neil Astley, who Crown describes as "one of the most sensitive and thoughtful curators in the business". She finds the mood of this collection to be more contemplative than its predecessors with "time – its passage and our relationship to it" as the overarching subject. Bernardine Evaristo writing in The Times on 5th March applauds the "staggering array of voices and nationalities" in this inclusive anthology which "expands our definition of greatness" and introduces "poetry to new readers and new poets to seasoned readers".
Carrie Etter, writing in The Guardian on 21st May, suggests that Mark Ford’s latest collection Six Children is both "the author’s most formally and thematically diverse collection to date" and "compellingly cohesive". Death is a constant in the collection, with ‘Ravished’- an elegy for Mick Imlah - described as the "most poignant poem" from a poet who Etter praises for his "intelligent, restless originality". Six Children is also featured in the ‘Other New Books’ section in the PBS Summer Bulletin.
Finally, John Fuller’s book Who is Ozymandias? And Other Puzzles in Poetry was featured in The Guardian on 21st May. Fuller explains his belief that the majority of pleasure in reading poetry "lies in discovering, little by little, what it means". He asserts that "it is in the very nature of poetry to be forever setting up problems of meaning that require an alert solving response in the reader, and that this is one of a poem's greatest pleasures". Michael Glover in The Independent on 1st June declares Fuller’s work to be "written engagingly and approachably" and enthuses over the detail and specificity of a book which "asks particular questions of particular poems and helps to unravel what it is that often makes them so difficult to understand".