James Lasdun's new book of poems, his first since his acclaimed collection Landscape with Chainsaw, applies his characteristic blend of the celebratory and the elegiac to a rich variety of new themes and old obsessions.
At once personal and political, Water Sessions brilliantly registers the shock waves of global tumult in the most intimately domestic of settings, while at the same time constantly feeling its way outward through private experience into the larger arenas of social and civic drama.
Fathers and sons, men and women, desire and repression, art and silence, form the book's central polarities. Recurrent motifs of water and gardens give its wide-ranging subjects a satisfying coherence while also supplying its sometimes darkly urgent poems with a note of intense lyrical beauty.
Much praised for the wit and tensile strength of his line, Lasdun moves in this volume from the tight formality of 'Stones' through the highly original patient/therapist dialogue form of the title poem, to the exuberant free verse of 'Dog Days',with a versatility and intelligence that ensure his standing as one of the most gifted poets writing today.
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The title sequence both sends up and celebrates the talking cure - Sunday Telegraph
Water Sessions is a collection of fine psychological acuity and astringent beauty - Guardian
Sharp, slicing imagery gives Lasdun's poetry its deep notch of truth - New York Times
[D]eeply literary, but cool as well... Urbane excursions in pastoral, these verses will ensure there are laurels on Lasdun's brow for many years to come - Guardian
”It Isn’t Me” will doubtless illicit a pang of recognition from many readers; “Blues for Samson”, a candid but measured take on the capricious male libido, also deserves mention. In their reflective patter, formal dexterity, serio-comic tones and depth of feeling, these are the stand-out poems in an excellent book. - TLS
James Lasdun was born in London and now lives in upstate New York. He has published two novels - The Horned Man and Seven Lies - three collections of short stories and three previous books of poetry. With Michael Hofmann he co-edited the anthology After Ovid: New Metamorphoses. His story 'The Siege' was adapted by Bernardo Bertolucci for his film Besieged. He won first prize in the 1999 TLS/Blackwells Poetry Competition and has been shortlisted for both the Forward and T.S. Eliot prizes. He was also the winner of the inaugural National Short Story Competition. His memoir, Give Me Everything You Have, was published in 2013.