Jack Underwood’s poetry debut, Happiness (2015), was celebrated for its unconventional and daring tone: ‘conversational, arresting . . . weird, singular’ (Guardian). Such qualities are on accomplished display in this anticipated new collection, as the poems mature and move on to a wide range of preoccupations, including imminent societal collapse and public unrest; the limits, myths and complexities of masculinity and fatherhood; and uncanny, often amusing scenarios, such as serving drinks to a gathering of fifteen babies or group kissing in Empathy Class.
Throughout, incongruous and domestic subjects realign in skewed lyrics and thought experiments, intimately expressed in ‘a new language / of the familiar’ (‘The Landing’). All is presented with a generosity and tenderness that makes the poet so unmistakable – and indispensable for the strange times in which we live.
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