In this strikingly varied first collection, Paul Batchelor travels from a laboratory in Hokkaido to the Black Sea steppe, from the mythical Ireland of Mad King Sweeney to the shattered landscape of post-war Germany. The poems he brings back are haunted by a series of memorable talismans: a synthetic snow crystal, an ebony cigarette holder, the last spray of honesty in a Northumberland B&B.
His sinking road is language itself, taking the reader across the border from present-day concerns to threatened or threatening histories, like that of Gilgamesh, the arrogant warlord, or Ovid, the poet in exile. These meticulously crafted, emotionally charged poems draw on a wide range of poetic traditions to confront, celebrate and question ‘this life, this crucible of accidents’.
The Sinking Road was shortlisted for the Jerwoood Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and the Glen Dimplex New Writers Awards in 2008.
‘Keenly felt; passionately, precisely and lyrically conveyed.’ – Simon Armitage.
‘Thematic range, formal diversity, intellectual curiosity, passion, intimacy, and a musical ear that makes the reader sit up: Paul Batchelor comes with an enviable array of powers. His work is rich, rewarding and original.’ – Sean O’Brien
‘The fact is that Batchelor has an imagination and possesses resources of form, information and vocabulary, and he’s not afraid to use any of them.’ – Michael Hulse, Poetry Review
‘A poet with heart…Batchelor knows how to write social injustice – a sense of anger and pity is never far from his confident, clear spoken poems.’ – Kate Bingham, Poetry London
Paul Batchelor reads at Dove Cottage
Paul Batchelor reads six poems from his first collection The Sinking Road (Bloodaxe Books, 2008) at the launch event held by the Wordsworth Trust in their Dove Cottage series of readings in June 2008 (also featuring Frances Leviston and Kathryn Simmonds). The poems are: 'Artemis', 'Keening' (for Barry MacSweeney), 'Secret Papers', 'Honesty', 'Suibne in the Trees' (from the sequence 'Suibne Changed'), and 'Finding', a five-part poem written for his grandfather recalling the time during the 1930s when he worked in Kielder Forest in Northumberland.