Poetry Book Society Wild Card Choice
Wayne Holloway-Smith's second book-length book of poetry, Love Minus Love, is an internal universe, fragmented and glued back together with uncanny logic. A strange layering of time, in which multiple things happen at once, in a looping track of intrusive thoughts – shot through with dead cows, pop songs, dead dads, the white noise of televisions – rotten teeth are raining everywhere. Somewhere at the core of all this, the seemingly fixed boundaries of masculinity, family, trauma and mental health are blurred towards a new type of vinegary identity, in a pitch of emotional intensity that punches you right in the gut.
'…it’s so intimate and direct: the story of growing up with a single mother, abuse, poverty and bereavement, told with wit and kindness and love...it’s hard, these distracted days, to find something so focused and intent, such an entirely immersive read.' - Kate Clanchy, New Statesman [on Love Minus Love]
‘Love Minus Love is perhaps best understood as a collective, albeit fragmented, verbalisation of this tormented poet’s psyche, with many of its poems reading as snippets overheard from a story already-in-the telling… A heartfelt putting of pen to paper, it is best defined by a single, summative word: bravery. – Daniel Baksi, The Arts Desk
‘Under the microscope of poetry, Holloway-Smith objectifies a personal story until it becomes some strange, unknown thing, rushed towards in a tumult of language. Perhaps Holloway-Smith’s biggest accomplishment here is in successfully convincing the reader that his introspective subject matter—incorporating identity, masculinity and family turmoil—can be best expressed in this explosive, singular poetic style.’ – Ben Ray, Oxford Review of Books on Love Minus Love
'The Wiltshire-born poet’s primary concerns – masculinity, abuse, disease – are threaded with wit and a disinterest in sentimentality. He is as playful with form as he is honest with language: in one poem, “the pain of childhood” is literally crossed out on the page, its letters welded together, no spaces between the words. But look closely and you’ll find the grief, hidden in plain sight.' - New Statesman, NS Recommends, on Love Minus Love
'I rejoice in Wayne Holloway-Smith's poems, and I miss them when I'm not reading them. Love Minus Love is a gorgeous painful classic of the Dead Dad genre, and the We Are All Meat genre and the Re-Building Mum genre. It is a beautiful tapestry-album of boy agony, wit and honesty, punctuated by devastating in-parentheses-bildungsromans. It's unforgettably brilliant.' – Max Porter
'Exciting, excoriating, gorgeous, appalling, and eye-wateringly honest. Wayne Holloway-Smith's poems are blisteringly beautiful, and probe at a siege-like nucleus of familial harm. Histories of abuse, hurt and disease are confronted and dissected in all their messy, meaty complexity, but always with love, always with hope and a sweet, sweet tenderness. One of the truest poets writing today.' – Fiona Benson
'Such inventive, memorable and sardonic phrase making fills Wayne Holloway-Smith's second collection Love Minus Love. A startling and unconventional experiment rooted in childhood, place, masculinity and the environment, Holloway-Smith bridges seemingly disparate subjects to create a coherent and tender experience… In a sequence of untitled poems, often appearing as protracted, imagistic meditations shifting from a son's relationship to his parents, to the illogical constructs of gender binaries, Holloway-Smith compels the reader into an alarming vision of consequences. The interplay between past and present, between platonic friendship and intimacy, and how the male body has been usurped to act as a nefarious emblem of strength and resilience, all align to challenge and subvert sociosymbolic preconceptions.' - Anthony Anaxagorou, PBS Bulletin
Wayne Holloway-Smith's debut collection Alarum was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry Prize and the Roehampton Poetry Prize as well as being a Poetry Book Society Wild Card Choice. His poem 'the posh mums are boxing in the square' – included in Love Minus Love – won first prize in the Poetry Society's 2018 National Poetry Competition.
'A vital book about working class identity.' – Andrew McMillan on Alarum, his Winter Guest Selection for the Winter 2017 PBS Bulletin, on Alarum
'Alarum is enviably good... Hilarious and witty, it’s also terrifically sad, but wears its tragedy so lightly at first it’s hard to notice.' – John Challis, The Poetry School
‘Witty, modern and remarkably original, Alarum shows us what contemporary poetry can be and where it can go.’ – Jennifer Wong, The Poetry Review
Wayne Holloway-Smith: Love Minus Love launch reading
Wayne Holloway-Smith launched his new collection Love Minus Love in a Bloodaxe online launch reading shared with Pascale Petit and Phoebe Stuckes on 8 September 2020. This video is an excerpt from that event which went out on YouTube Live.
Wayne Holloway-Smith: ‘the posh mums are boxing in the square’
Wayne Holloway-Smith’s ‘the posh mums are boxing in the square’ won first prize in the Poetry Society’s 2018 National Poetry Competition, judged by Kei Miller, Kim Moore and Mark Waldron. The poem is reproduced with permission from The Poetry Society (www.poetrysociety.org.uk) and is included in his second book-length collection, Love Minus Love.
Wayne Holloway-Smith reading from Alarum
Wayne Holloway-Smith read seven poems from his debut collection Alarum: ‘Some Waynes’, ‘No Worries’, ‘Short’, ‘Alarum’, ‘Please Understand’, ‘Everything is always sometimes broken’ and ‘The Language’. At the end he talks about how his sense of identity as a writer evolved both from his working-class background and from his take on working-class masculinity, concerns he parodies in the poem ‘No Worries’. Neil Astley filmed him reading from his work at his home in London in April 2018.