Winner of the Laurel Prize 2023
To 2040 begins with question masquerading as fact: ‘Are we / extinct yet. Who owns / the map.’ These visionary new poems reveal Graham as historian, cartographer, prophet, plotting an apocalyptic world where rain must be translated, silence sings louder than speech, and wired birds parrot recordings of their extinct ancestors. In one poem, the speaker is warned by a clairvoyant, ‘the American experiment will end in 2030’. Graham exposes a potentially inevitable future, sirens sounding among industrial ruins. In sparse lines that move with cinematic precision, we pan from overhead views of reshaped shorelines to close-ups of a burrowing worm. Here, we linger, climate crisis on hold, as Graham invites the reader to sit silent, to hear soil breathe. To 2040 is narrated by a speaker who reflects on her own mortality – in the glass window of a radiotherapy room, in the first ‘claw full of hair’ placed gently on a green shower ledge. 2040 as both future and event-horizon: the reader leaves the book warned, wiser, attentively on edge. ‘Inhale. / Are you still there / the sun says to me’. The title poem asks, ‘what was yr message, what were u meant to / pass on?’
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