Wednesday, 18 July 2012
Some comments on Todd's new book from poets you have heard of
Praise for Todd Swift's When All My Disappointments Came At Once
“Poetry that’s too self-consciously smart may leave one cold. We want
feeling; we want to believe that a poet sees life wholly and loves it
fiercely. We want to know that he or she faces the dilemma of our
existence—a temporary sentience before oblivion (save for, perhaps,
spiritual transcendence that we can only obtain through faith). Todd
Swift is such a poet. His voice is powerfully his own, but poetry lovers
will find the grace notes of plainsong T.S. Eliot, but also the verbal
dexterity of Swift’s fine compatriot, Robert Bringhurst. But what’s
most important is what Swift says to us about living—in words
that are indelible because they are written in the heart’s blood. Swift
is a philosophical poet, a metaphysical poet, but he is also a poet
of truths that he shows us anew. He knows that “Desire ages, ages
hardly at all,” and that it can “break / Open; as spring does; as do
flames.” Desire Swift; you’ll have no disappointment. This collection
is compassion in mind, excellence in art.”
—George Elliott Clarke, Laureate, 2001 Governor-General’s
Award for Poetry
“These thoughtful introspects marry the most difficult topics to make
new—love, illness—with a contemporary sensibility. Swift is a
descendent of Auden, and some of his lyric moments are joyously
Audenesque. Often, though, there’s a subtly decadent note: roses and
wounds recur alongside the tender avowals. Importantly, the book’s
frank exploration of mid-life crisis is unusual, highly characteristic—
—Fiona Sampson, poet and 2005-2012 editor of
“This is a timely and important addition to Todd Swift’s increasingly
impressive body of work as a poet. One of contemporary English
language poetry’s great cosmopolitans, Swift takes the whole world for
his subject. His words have a rare, and very particular, musicality.
Almost every poem here has at least one line which I’m jealous I
didn’t write myself.”
—Kevin Higgins, Irish poet
“This is a book full of difficult things—difficult knowledge, difficult
experience—and yet its effect is strangely redemptive. I think this
has something to do with a slow-motion exuberance in the writing
itself—the almost Jacobean richness of the diction, the surprising
and graceful turns of the syntax.”
—Bill Manhire, winner of the New Zealand Book Award for
poetry, and New Zealand’s inaugural Poet Laureate
“These poems think their way through a difficult passage in the
writer’s life, without self indulgence or self pity. Not afraid to be
literary, they show how conversations with the work of other writers
and the disciplines of form can bring us through to moments of
—Philip Gross, winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize
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