Peter Bennet is a storyteller who reinvents the world each time he writes, and does so with linguistic resourcefulness and panache, bold imaginative strokes, subversive connections, and dark wit. He has also armed himself with a sophisticated dramatic understanding learned in part from Browning.
The borders of the real and the imaginary are frequently breached here, but Mischief, which is his seventh full-length collection, also contains an uncharacteristically autobiographical and revealing sequence which revisits memories from between Bennet’s war-time early childhood and his father’s premature death in 1953.
This writing is so careful, even compressed, that it feels distilled rather than made, having something of the purity and strength of a good single malt.
‘Peter Bennet considers the moments of interaction between past and present, fairytale and fact, using folklore’s staples to cast light on contemporary concerns. His watchful, thicketed landscapes, the stateliness of his language, all fit themselves perfectly to winter. This is fireside poetry.’ – Sarah Crown, The Guardian
‘Bennet often tips his hat to his literary heroes, wielding the instructive tone of Norman MacCaig, the direct address of W.S. Graham, and Robert Browning’s sophisticated handling of the dramatic monologue and acoustic texturing, but it is to the imagining of a poetic place that Bennet gives his all.’ – Soumyaroop Majumdar, READ
‘Bennet really does know, very precisely, how to contrive the entry of the powers of place and history into his poems without depriving them of idiosyncrasy, surprise, or their darker natures.’ – Sean O’Brien, The Sunday Times
‘Often in Bennet’s poetry there is a sort of magical realism at work, reinforced by linguistic exuberance and rhythmic energy: this is poetry that – unfashionably – sings.’ – Roger Caldwell, Times Literary Supplement
‘Peter Bennet inhabits the past convincingly – wholly present in the worlds he evokes. This is a rare and enviable thing. There is an unforced elegance and control in his work, and the formal register he adopts fits his rich subject-matter perfectly.’ – Helen Mort, Poetry London
‘In “Pastoral” Bennet may see himself as “an upstart in the poetry of fields”, but in the craft of poetry he is a master.’ – William Bedford, The High Window