April 21 , 2010



Corpus - Michael Symmons Roberts' Whitbread-Prize winning 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.

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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/ And found within, a goose, its pink/ Beak in the lamb's mouth like a tongue.' Ranging effortlessly between the physical extremes of death - from putrefaction to purification - and life - drought and flood, hunger and satiation - the poems in Corpus speak most movingly of 'living the half-life between two elements', of what it is to be unique and luminously alive.

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