J.H. Prynne is Britain’s leading late Modernist poet. His austere yet playful poetry challenges our sense of the world, not by any direct address to the reader but by showing everything in a different light, enacting slips and changes of meaning through shifting language.
Not since the late work of Ezra Pound and the Maximus series of Charles Olson have the possibilities of poetry been so fundamentally questioned and extended as they are in the life work of J.H. Prynne. When his Poems was first published in 1999, it was immediately acclaimed as a landmark in modern poetry. Four further collections were added to the second edition of Poems in 2005. This expanded third edition of Poems (2015) includes the complete texts of seven additional works: Refuse Collection (2004), To Pollen (2006), Streak~~~Willing~~~Entourage /Artesian (2009), Sub Songs (2010), Kazoo Dreamboats; or, On What There Is (2011), and Al-Dente (2014), all previously available only in limited editions, as well as a group of uncollected poems. Over thirty later texts are included in Poems 2016–2024 (Bloodaxe Books, 2024).
‘Prynne is refractory yet astonishingly lucid. First poet of the world for some things.’ – John Kerrigan, Times Literary Supplement (Books of the Year 2015)
‘Poems is a vast slab of a thing, but its luminous and unsettling poems richly repay the attention they demand.’ – David Wheatley, Guardian [on the third edition of Poems]
‘The place to start with Prynne is The White Stones (1969), one of the great volumes of postwar British verse. Poem after poem of quick, light, original perception re-frames the world with extraordinary freshness.’ Jeremy Noel-Tod, The Sunday Times [on the third edition of Poems]
'Without doubt the most formidable and accomplished poet in England today, a writer who has single-handedly changed the vocabulary of expression.’ – Peter Ackroyd, The Times
'This book is one of the most inventive, intelligently experimental collected poems of the century.’ - Adam Phillips, Observer
'J.H. Prynne’s Poems is a collection, thirty years in the making, in which the language is both astonishing and inevitable. Such a level of intelligence, control and risk is shocking.’ – lain Sinclair, Independent on Sunday (Books of the Year)
'Prynne presents a body of work of staggering audacity and authority such that the map of contemporary poetry already begins to look a little different.' – Roger Caldwell, TLS
'The longer I have stayed with these pieces, the more they have moved and haunted me; the more I have felt altered by having experienced them…Prynne is hard-going, off-putting, and much disliked by many more traditional writers; he is also, when one gets into him, so good that he changes the way you think and feel.’ – Robert Potts, Guardian (Books of the Year)
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