Best Sellers:

The Resurrectionists | Bloodaxe Books
john-challis-the-resurrectionists

John Challis

The Resurrectionists

John Challis

Publication Date : 24 Jun 2021

ISBN: 9781780375519

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

The living and the dead are working side by side in John Challis’s dramatic debut collection, The Resurrectionists. Whether in London’s veg and meat markets, far below the Dartford Crossing, or on the edge of the Western world, these poems journey into a buried and sometimes violent landscape to locate the traces of ourselves that remain. Amidst the political disquiet rising from the groundwater, or the unearthing of the class divide at the gravesides of plague victims, the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest when a child is born, and something close to hope for the future is resurrected.

'In his debut collection, The Resurrectionists, John Challis reminds us how both personal and collective histories remain a part of our present.... this is poetry as archaeology, though with a lyric alchemy that can conjure “a heap / of gangrenous bodies” at a plague-pit excavation in modern London. Challis commemorates the lives of working London people – butchers in Smithfield market, a cabbie father, “barrow boys and cockle pickers” – in poems that reflect on class politics while generally avoiding nostalgia.... The Resurrectionists is alive to both the individual moment and the long perspective.' - Ben Wilkinson, The Guardian, best recent poetry

‘There is a tremendously punchy hiss and splutter to The Resurrectionists, John Challis’ first book. It is something to do with strikingly unfashionable subject matter elbowing its way in from the margins, so unlike the usual accompaniment to poetry’s verbal politesse: the stench of meat in Smithfield Market; a magnificent tribute to the brutal eyesore of a coal-fired power station; a London cabbie’s Knowledge praised as a species of wisdom. A young talent to keep a watchful eye on.’ – Michael Glover, The Tablet

'John Challis’ first full length collection The Resurrectionists occupies the liminal space between the living and the dead. The industrial past and its violent landscapes are not finished with  us, but instead spring forth into the present moment where “time alone can be itself, bait and cast a line”.  The  Resurrectionists explores how the past comes closest when the future is at  hand: “the dead leaned in... as though to kiss our baby’s head.” - Poetry Book Society Bulletin, Summer 2021

The Resurrectionists is the outstanding first full collection by the North East-based poet John Challis. These are engrossing and vivid poems that capture often disquieting little-told stories of London, full of narrative drive and a variety of voices that feel real and lived.’ - Will Mackie, New Writing North (New Poetry from the North, Summer 2021)

'The title of John Challis’s The Resurrectionists alludes to the ancient profession of body-snatching, and the collection is concerned with all kinds of disinterment and revitalisation. In the title poem, the speaker shows us a corpse, filched for experimental resurrection, “jerking on the table / at the dawn of electricity” and asserts: “I too feel the urge to make something / out of nothing and profit from this work: / the page my barrow and my charge the word.” The double meaning of “barrow” is salient: it’s not merely a burial place but a mobile market stall, one of the many images that bring a lost or fading working-class London memorably to life.' - Carol Rumens, Poem of the Week, The Guardian

‘A resurrectionist was a body snatcher, with a particular market for his swag, namely anatomical education and research. Likewise, Challis’s poetic purpose is to unearth past lives, and study their components....There is nothing glib here, and the absence of irony, even when being critical of contemporary environments, generates a sincerity that is in keeping with the poet’s misgivings about modernity, and with his warmth towards the city and its workers.’ – Stephen Payne, The Friday Poem

‘In John Challis’s superb first collection, the past has not finished with us. It pursues and provokes and questions what we’re about. Entire vanished or vanishing worlds of work – on the East End docks, at Smithfield, in the pre-Murdoch print, at the wheel of a black cab – reveal vivid traffic between the living and the dead. In rich, urgent combinations of the dramatic and the lyric, Challis adds new energy to the poetry of history, in the tradition of Harrison, Smith, Dunn and Wainwright. In its embrace of both the political and the metaphysical, and in its tender regard for ordinary life the book is both timely and necessary.’ – Sean O’Brien

‘These poems throw a great arc of light out of the city’s storeyed past into the present, place, trades, family, vulnerable fatherhood. Here, balanced at the very edge, where “light will fall out of our language”, John Challis shines his words into the workings of the heart and of nature, with all their unpredictable transformations.’ – Imtiaz Dharker

 

USA: Click here to order from Indiebound or Bookshop.org

  

Related News & Publicity

Poetry Events


John Challis Readings

John Challis Readings

John Challis to read in person at Durham Book Festival, 17 Oct, 4pm; at Blackwell's Newcastle, 4 Nov, 6pm; and at Bolton Central Library 9 Nov, 6pm (with Rebecca Perry).

Read More  |  View All

News & Publicity


John Challis reviews, interviews & poem features

John Challis reviews, interviews & poem features

John Challis's debut collection reviewed in The Guardian, The Tablet and elsewhere; Poem of the Week feature in The Guardian of 20 September 2021.

Read More  |  View All

Poetry Events


Launch reading by Penelope Shuttle, A.B. Jackson and John Challis

Launch reading by Penelope Shuttle, A.B. Jackson and John Challis

Live-streamed launch reading by Penelope Shuttle, A.B. Jackson and John Challis on 22 June 2021 is now on YouTube.

Read More  |  View All

cart
CART
search
TITLE SEARCH

A-Z

AUTHORS

A-Z

CATEGORIES

View Larger Text