To Abandon Wizardry, Matthew Caley's seventh collection, explores a world where it's harder and harder to tell what's real and what's not. Where our political and cultural reality seems so unbelievable, we search for a plot and find one that comes from the Harry Potter playbook. Our sky proves CGI, our touchstones AI. Our screens full of wonders, our streets full of decay. We could nod at Deep Fake, QAnon, fake news versus the 'truth' of official news, all manner of waning national myth, or ponder the elsewhere we always think of escaping to, that will no doubt prove equally illusory.
Set within this almost parallel world, To Abandon Wizardry features a long central poem where someone enjoys an alfresco Americano in Shadwell, London, while in dialogue with a mesh-protected sapling that transmits all the polyglot talk of the city. Either side of this we encounter revenants, disembowelled wizards, talking horses and flying houses, as the book forges its aesthetic out of the simulation, hyper-association, and over-stimulation of living in the 21st century. And it's all true.
From the reviews of Trawlerman's Turquoise:
'Chief among contemporary British poets, Caley takes seriously the vision of synaesthetic abundance laid out in Stephane Mallarmé’s seminal essay ‘Crisis of Verse’… Caley is a great poet of transposition and vibration…at his very best, an offhand philosopher and bard of the demi-monde, gently blowing our minds.’ – Dai George, Poetry Wales
'The humour and playfulness... shows off Caley's carefree ability to draw lines across time and space. It also feels profoundly European - a poetry in which borders do not exist, and we are all reflected in this multicultural, pan-historical vision.' – Chrissy Williams, Poetry London
'…demonstrates the diffident confidence of a poet at the height of his powers, an extremely thought-provoking collection, with confluent continuous threads throughout that tease and pulsate, staying with me long after I had read it… a book worth buying and cherishing.' – Nicki Heinen, Tentacular Magazine
'Matthew Caley’s sixth collection Trawlerman’s Turquoise is a steer through linguistic rapids – the effect is dizzying, and psychedelic. One is left with the sense that some new order has been made manifest…in Caley’s intoxicated world the urban becomes urbane, lexicon turns lyrical.' – Cheryl Moskowitz, Magma
From the reviews of Rake:
‘… the technical resources deployed remain consistently highly coloured and deft in execution. A tanka-derived syllabic structure for stanzas predominates, but a multitude of other forms are used with intelligent grace…I know that it is the verve of Caley’s writing I will be re-reading.’ – Ian McEwen, Magma
‘Decidedly indecorous, Caley's vocabulary pricks his readers to keep the action anachronistic and contemporary… the book is a Waste Land of sorts, punctuated with Pound-like fragments…carefully [meticulously] crafted.’ – Edwina Attlee, The Poetry Review
‘… a series of densely written love poems in which the reader is aware of something strange and beautiful (and perhaps a little dishonest) going on behind the scenes… It is this sense of play that makes the poems so striking, as well as the tightly reigned undertones of kitsch… Rake seems to have created a brow of its own, colloquial enough to keep you reading, yet complex enough to keep you uncomfortable…the reader is aware of something strange and beautiful.’ – Emma Hammond, Poetry London
'Formally outrageous, culturally light-fingered, Caley’s vision and wit make for poems that turn a wondrous, great lamp on the inter-relatedness of all things. An important poet.’ – John Stammers
Matthew Caley: Rake
Matthew Caley reads and introduces eight poems from his Bloodaxe collection Rake: ‘The Confluence of the Elbe and the Upa’, ‘Foregone Conclusion’, ‘Written Immediately on Waking’, ‘Misery Memoir’, ‘Willow’, ‘Absolute Gospel’, ‘Walnuts’ and ‘The Young Hegelians’. This video shows part of his performance at Ledbury Poetry Festival on 3 July 2016.
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