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Peter Bennet

Nayler & Folly Wood

New & Selected Poems

Peter Bennet

Publication Date : 23 Feb 2023

ISBN: 9781780376554

Pages: 65
Size :216 x 138mm
Rights: World

Poetry Book Society Special Commendation

In Peter Bennet’s poetry nothing is what it seems to be. Modern spaces are haunted by the past and the unreal. We cannot tell the encroacher from the encroached. Discontinuities in time and space and playful short-circuitings produce exhilarating shivers. Bennet is an astute observer of people, places, and things, however, and we find ourselves surprisingly at home on this border between plausible narrative and the wilder territories of the imagination.

This comprehensive selection reflects Bennet’s full range for the first time, and begins with poems from the early 1980s, when he arrived in Jon Silkin’s Stand at the no longer young age of forty. It draws on seven collections published since then and includes his major sequences: The Long Pack, Jigger Nods, Folly Wood, Bobby Bendick’s Ride, Landscape with Psyche and Ladderedge and Cotislea. New work introduced here centres on another major and powerfully imagined sequence, a colloquy which bridges three centuries to evoke the voice of the Quaker James Nayler, who was abominably punished for ‘horrid blasphemy’. The book concludes with a substantial group of recent poems.

'To read Nayler & Folly Wood is to know “the hanging dark that cloaks the hillside at your fingers’ ends”. This arresting retrospective gathers mischievous poems in tune with the metres and matters found on beer-stained slip-songs and in lofty lyrical ballads alike.' – Jo Clement, PBS Selector, Poetry Book Society Bulletin, Spring 2023

‘Bennet was a painter before he became a poet, and has written a number of poems that are set in tangibly realised landscapes. This one, too, gives the impression of a real place - nowhere more compellingly than in its last two lines with their brilliant juxtaposition of images: the “homing plane” that “blinks across the ankles of Orion”… We’re close to music and history, as well as painting, but with no sense that language itself is less than the primary fascination.’ – Carol Rumens, Poem of the Week, The Guardian, on ‘The Place I Am’ from Nayler & Folly Wood

'It’s hard to do justice to the complexity and variety of this long [title] sequence which demands and repays several readings [...] There’s considerable erudition in this collection [...] It is likely to repay reading and re-reading.' – Kathleen Bell, The High Window

‘Bloodaxe published landmark editions by two remarkable northern poets in February. Nayler & Folly Wood by Peter Bennet includes work from different stages of the poet’s career, including his masterful Flambard collections, offering a wide-ranging selection of precise, mystical and often astonishing poems.’ – Will Mackie, New Writing North (New & recent poetry from the North)

‘It is that imaginative power and Bennet’s skill that makes this book such a huge pleasure. He has a way of sliding images through and against one another that is both surprising and deeply involving […] We know we’re in good hands with a Peter Bennet poem that will have a warm inevitability and completeness about it, that is never water-tight or airless, but which always allows the reader to live and breathe in its world.’ – Ian Pople, The High Window, on Nayler & Folly Wood

‘Peter Bennet’s poetry evokes a sense of place and history—in this case, Northumberland , where the poet has lived for most of his life—with such ingenious power that it transcends the specific and provides tools to help us think about the concepts of time and space generally ... Bennet, whose body of work is superbly curated in Bloodaxe’s Nayler & Folly Wood retrospective, deserves a wide audience in the Americas. His fierce attention to the local opens out into the universal.’ – Daniel A. Rabuzzi, The Ocean State Review

‘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, on The Glass Swarm

‘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, on Mischief

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


Peter Bennet reading from Nayler & Folly Wood at St Chad's College, Durham. Filmed by Neil Astley on 1st March 2023.


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Related News & Publicity

News & Publicity

Peter Bennet's Nayler & Folly Wood Guardian poem feature & reviews

Peter Bennet's Nayler & Folly Wood Guardian poem feature & reviews

Guardian & Yorkshire Times Poem of the Week features for Peter Bennet's retrospective Nayler & Folly Wood; reviews & launch reading. In-depth reviews in The High...

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Poetry Events

Launch reading for Anne Stevenson and Peter Bennet books

Launch reading for Anne Stevenson and Peter Bennet books

Joint launch and tribute event for Anne Stevenson and Peter Bennet books at St Chad's College, Durham on 1 March 2023: videos now on our YouTube channel.

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