Riddance by Anthony Wilson


“Riddance is a remarkable collection, moving, but also funny and admirable, rueful and hopeful. A few of the poems are especially breathtaking; ‘Visitation’ in particular. But I think it’s the accretion of matter that’s most extraordinary, the way the collection grows and occasionally twists back on itself, the way ideas pop up in different contexts so that the difficulty of the subject is gradually mediated by the honesty and insistence of the voice. Finally I loved its mundanity: if cancer is anything it is common, while poetry often aspires to the universal. Anthony Wilson understands that commonness and universality are close cousins, but not quite the same thing, and that sensitivity shines throughout the collection.”

 Peter Scott, co-editor of The Junket

 

“A devastatingly candid and clear-eyed response to Wilson’s diagnosis in 2006 with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Riddance charts the progress of his treatment for this disease, from initial diagnosis to the uncertainty of remission, from The Year of Drinking Water to Reasons For Life, plotting hope’s slow curve against an ever-tremulous axis. Each poem is a small marvel on grave themes, a grand paean to the minutiae of a life worth cherishing, where Chemotherapy For Dummies is redrafted by The Script Writers Of Frasier, where ‘On bad days you long to be dead./ On good days you think you are’, each setback somehow answered by ‘that champagne moment’ of another tomorrow.”

The Poetry Book Society Autumn Bulletin

 

“Exceptionally graceful, playful and alive”

David Morley

 

“Beautiful, and moving”

Michael Symmons Roberts

 

“Riddance is a must-read”

Andy Brown

 

“I loved Riddance. It’s a such a wonderful, multi-layered collection. Every poem is touched with honesty, warmth and humour, no matter how poignant and serious the subject.”

Kate Scott

 

Riddance is a wonderful book”

Sarah Salway

 

“Riddance documents Wilson’s personal experience of cancer, from initial diagnosis and treatment to the tentative relief of being in remission.  But Riddance is the opposite of a depressing read. Wilson’s evident love for life is contagious and humbling and there are moments of delicious humour. In facing death he witnesses, in exquisite detail, the pleasure to be found in small things.”

Josephine Corcoran

 

“The book is remarkable – not just because it is frank – which it is – and disarming – which it is – and moving – which it is – but also because it is real poetry, musical, particular and deeply human.”

Maura Dooley

 

“You can forget all about the narrative, the business of being diagnosed with cancer, treated for it, the remission and recovery. You can read it simply for its way of looking. Because when the birdseed imperatives stop, people see things in a different way, and that sharpness of vision is something we prize. It is invaluable: the true gold we sift through poems for. This book is lit by that vision, and sometimes where you least expect it.”

Helena Nelson. Read Helena’s full review on Goodreads

 

“Riddance is fine poetry on its own merits, and I think it also fills a need both emotionally and practically, in the difficult area of poetry about illness.”

Clarissa Aykroyd. Read Clarissa’s full review on her blog The Stone and the Star

 

“The poetry is in the tones and emotions, the playfulness at times, the precise placings on the page [Anthony Wilson has always been an excellent craftsperson] and the total lack of any self-pity. It is an uplifting experience to read.”

Mike Ferguson. Read Mike’s full review on his blog Some Diurnal Aural Awe