AN IRISH TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR
SHORTLISTED FOR THE FORWARD PRIZE FOR BEST COLLECTION
‘Impressive . . . tender, unflinching’ Guardian
‘This is poetry in the grand tradition of annihiliation by desire. It’s what the young are always learning, and the old, if they are wise, never forget’ Anne Boyer, author of The Undying
‘Brilliant . . . heralds the arrival of a frank and vital poetic voice’ Sharlene Teo, author of Ponti
‘Frank and alert . . . an important voice in British poetry’ Eley Williams, author of The Liar’s Dictionary
‘Direct and heart-breaking’ Alex Dimitrov, author of Love and Other Poems
‘A rare thing . . . razor-sharp’ Julia Copus, author of This Rare Spirit: A Life of Charlotte Mew
In Rotten Days in Late Summer, Ralf Webb turns poetry to an examination of the textures of class, youth, adulthood and death in the working communities of the West Country, from mobile home parks, boyish factory workers and saleswomen kept on the road for days at a time, to the yearnings of young love and the complexities of masculinity.
Alongside individual poems, three sequences predominate: a series of ‘Love Stories’, charting a course through the dreams, lies and salt-baked limbs of multiple relationships; ‘Diagnostics’, which tells the story of the death from cancer of the poet’s father; and ‘Treetops’, a virtuosic long poem weaving together grief and mental health struggles in an attempt to come to terms with the overwhelming data of a life.
The world of these poems is close, dangerous, lustrous and difficult: a world in which whole existences are lived in the spin of almost-inescapable fates. In searching for the light within it, this prodigious debut collection announces the arrival of a major new voice in British poetry.