Shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award (the first time for a poetry book), Whitbread Poetry Award and Forward Prize for Best First Collection.
Poetry Book Society Recommendation
In this sparkling debut, Matthew Hollis immerses us in the undercurrents of our lives. Love and loss are buoyed by a house full of milk, an orchard underwater, the laws of walking on water. Rainwater, floodwater, flux – the liquid landscapes which shift relentlessly in Ground Water – threaten and comfort by turns.
Matthew Hollis's poems are brimming with courage in adversity as well as the promise of renewal, culminating in a powerful sequence about a father's struggle with terminal illness. Ground Water is a startling first collection from a remarkable new poet.
'An impressive debut…the metaphorical language is finely judged, touching both the landscapes and the people crawling its surface with a shrewd but never less than sympathetic gaze.’ – D.J. Taylor, The Guardian
‘Matthew Hollis shows an impressive confidence in the promptings of the imagination and no desire at all to ingratiate himself. Craft, not attitude, is what counts. Poems are sometimes called “quiet” when really they’re inaudible. His are genuinely quiet, drawing in the ear to enjoy, for example, his artful rendering in slowed folk-song rhythm of the terror and excitement of floods.’ - Sean O'Brien, The Sunday Times
‘Nothing in this first collection is clumsy… Ground Water is never sentimental, a tribute to the author’s attention to the way in which he makes the language of his poetry an event in itself… it announces Matthew Hollis as a fascinating prospect.’ - Stephen Knight, The Times Literary Supplement
'Affecting, redolent with sorrow but resolutely tough-minded.' – David Harsent, Poetry Book Society Bulletin
'Hollis writes a knowing, lyrical poetry set against a landscape of big skies and battened-down horizons. He combines worldly wisdom with more detailed, vernacular understanding to produce poems that speak with a sense of purpose and place.' - Simon Armitage
Matthew Hollis: Ground Water
Matthew Hollis introduces and reads four poems from Ground Water: ‘Wintering’, ‘The Fielder’, ‘And let us say’ and ‘The Sour House’. He was teaching a residential poetry course with Anthony Dunn at Highgreen Manor next door to Bloodaxe’s former Tarset office in the summer of 2007 when we managed to grab him during a break in proceedings to read us the poems included in Pamela Robertson-Pearce’s film, which is from the DVD-anthology In Person: World Poets, filmed & edited by Pamela Robertson-Pearce and Neil Astley (2017).