Poetry Book Society Recommendation
With its flighty parables and skewed morality tales, The Wilderness Party is an unforgettable record of turbulent times. These are poems of finely-wrought musicality, bristling energy and playful excess. From cream cakes on Shetland to Camberwick Green, from Lyuba the Siberian mammoth to the madness of Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, A.B. Jackson approaches personal and historical events with a mixture of wit and wonder.
Included in the opening section of individual lyrics is ‘Treasure Island’, winner of the Edwin Morgan International Poetry Competition. The series ‘Natural History’ takes a spirited linguistic tour through Pliny the Elder in Elizabethan translation to uncover the myths, mysteries, and uncanny familiarities of animal behaviour. In the twenty-one short fictions of ‘Apocrypha’, high ideals cavort with low befuddlement as re-cast Biblical characters attempt to make sense of the modern world.
The Wilderness Party was Jackson’s long-awaited follow-up to his Forward Prize-winning first collection Fire Stations, and was followed by his third collection, The Voyage of St Brendan in 2021.
‘At A.B. Jackson's Wilderness Party you never know quite what will happen at the next inventive and fantastical turn of thought – always elegantly dressed and poised, working with beautiful musical control, Jackson's poems in this collection are wired for unpredictable play and fancy. Wryly volatile and resistant, his language is open at every step to the high-energy transformations that spark from the metrical and harmonic patternings of his phrasing.’ – John Burnside & Jane Draycott, PBS Bulletin
‘Jackson creates a wild extravaganza, a tumble-about of images... this is a springy, likeable book, relishing the solid yet airy bounce of language.’ – Peter Scupham, Literary Review [on The Wilderness Party]
‘“Demons occupy the air” in A.B. Jackson’s new collection, but, as Dracula once remarked, what sweet music they make. What is it like, these poems ask, to exist outside or on the fringes of sacred space? These are canticles of praise to the wily as well as to the wonderful.’ – W.N. Herbert
‘The Wilderness Party is about the dangerous power of words – as law, as lies, as holy writ – but also brims with love of language. Jackson creates an irresistible poetry of resistance.’ – Clare Pollard
‘With its ethical weight, aesthetic rigour and comic panache, Jackson’s work is essential reading.’ – Ahren Warner