‘Exquisite’ (New Yorker), ‘breathtaking’ (Los Angeles Times), ‘baroque and moon-lit’ (Boston Globe) – House of Lords and Commons enthralled readers in the Americas when it recently appeared, winning the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry and being widely applauded in ‘books of the year’. No wonder this first British publication is a significant and much anticipated event. Ishion Hutchinson’s book is a profound engagement with culture and landscape, seascape and language, inheritance and race.
It speaks – as its title implies – to a pursuit of justice and rebalance of a world in which lords and commoners must live side by side, and where the distance between those who ‘have’ and those who ‘have not’ is a more breaching and surprising journey than we perhaps once thought. The poems convey the complex allure of Hutchinson’s native Jamaican landscape, and the violent forces that shaped its history, with remarkable lyric precision. But they speak far beyond Caribbean experience, thanks to the author’s uncanny ability to reach the universal within the local.
House of Lords and Commons is a skilfully crafted and tender expression of human experience in a world of prejudice and danger that is also a world of intense colour, remarkable music, indefatigable love. ‘Ishion Hutchinson’s darkly tinged yet exuberant new poems are the strongest to come out of the Caribbean in a generation.’ William Logan, New York Times Book Review
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