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White Coins

by James Byrne

Expanding on themes present in Blood/Sugar, James Byrne refuses one defining aesthetic or mode of writing in his work, instead choosing to fluctuate between the lyric, experimental, confessional and the political. These are poems that explore aspects of childhood, social activism and satire. There are correspondences with existing texts; Philomela finds herself in Nazi-occupied Paris during the Second World War and the villanelle re-tracks Rimbaud through London. Elsewhere Byrne seeks to defy Robert Graves' notion that there is "no poetry in money", preferring to rally against issues of austerity and hierarchical power in society. White Coins rewards the reader with a nomadic poetry for the 21st century; one that mingles personal, social and historical spaces whilst celebrating, at all times, linguistic versatility and innovation.

This is language charged with a tough, sensual contraflow music, vividly alive to inquiry and witness. The sheer purity of phrase in these poems yields a voice fused with compassion and outrage at the 'the mythomania of life's possessions'; derisive and unsparing, it rails, without rancour, against 'this age of bitter imprudence.' White Coins is an astonishing work, one where virtù and gravitas are in concord with a hermetic passion, one fiercely and beautifully saying the unsayable.

Ishion Hutchinson

978 1908376 47 3 pbk
978 1908376 48 0 hbk
978 1908376 49 7 ebk
Published February 2015

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