It Says Here is Sean O’Brien’s follow-up to his celebrated collection Europa, and has a vision as rich and wide-ranging as its predecessor. Set against shorter, ruthlessly focused pieces – vicious and scabrous political sketches and satires charting the growth of extremism and the disintegration of democracy – are meditations on the imaginative life, dream and remembrance, time and recurrence. There are elegies for friends and fellow poets; paranoiac, brooding pastorals; other poems lay bare the maddening trials of a historically literate mind as it attempts to navigate a world gone post-content, post-intellectual, and at times post-memory. At the centre of the book is the long poem Hammersmith, a shadowy, cinematic dream-vision of England during and since the Second World War. Here, O’Brien charts a psychogeographic journey through the English countryside and the haunted precincts of London, mapping a labyrinth of love, madness and lost history. The result is a stirring, illuminating document of a time of immense societal flux and upheaval by one of our finest poets and most insightful cultural commentators.
‘In both technical mastery and his belief in the seriousness of the poetic art, O’Brien is WH Auden’s true inheritor.’ Irish Times
Text by Picador