Information about the poet.
Corpus—Michael Symmons Roberts’ ambitious and inventive fourth collection—centres around the body. Mystical, philosophical and erotic, the bodies in these poems move between different worlds—life and after-life, death and resurrection—encountering pathologists’ blades, geneticists’ maps and the wounds of love and war. 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.
It tasted rich, steeped in essence
Of anchovy. They picked it clean…[more]
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. These poems offer a similarly potent and sensory multiplicity, unified through the formal constraint of 150 poems of 15 lines.
Like the medieval psalters echoed in its title, this collection contains both the sacred and profane. Here are hymns of praise and lamentation, songs of wonder and despair, journeying effortlessly through physical and metaphysical landscapes, from financial markets and urban sprawl to deserts and dark nights of the soul.
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. But, as ever in Roberts’ work—notably the Whitbread Award-winning Corpus—this…[more]
In his first two collections—Soft Keys and Raising Sparks—Michael Symmons Roberts established himself as a lyric and dramatic poet with metaphysical concerns. In this new collection, those concerns are as strong as ever, but rooted in a specific place and time. These poems describe the personal and public rise and fall of Greenham Common. The public story, as one of the most contentious missile bases of the cold war, ended with fences removed, buildings demolished, the base returned to common land. The private history emerges from the poet’s own experience, as an adolescent living a mile away from Greenham Common at the height of its powers. That third community of locals—not the USAF or the peace camps—is finally given a voice in Burning Babylon.This is war poetry, but from an undeclared war in which battle lines were unclear, secrecy was an obsession, and threat was the chief weapon. At the heart of it all was that real and mythic gated city—the base—which was both a key part…[more]