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Sean O’Brien: Embark


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‘In both technical mastery and his belief in the seriousness of the poetic art, O’Brien is WH Auden’s true inheritor’ Irish Times


A new collection by Sean O’Brien is not just a literary event, but also, invariably, a reckoning of the times. Given the nature of our times, his voice is an essential one: there is no other poet currently writing with O’Brien’s intellectual authority, historical literacy and sheer command of the facts. Embark also registers our unique cultural climacteric, where the larger crises of the planet – the pandemic and the terrifying spectre of revanchist nationalism among them – impact all of us, and where the illusion of a church-and-state separation of the personal and political can no longer hold. As the poet turns seventy, he shows us how the inevitable absences that age brings are assuaged by how we furnish them; the result is not just a logic made from loss and pain, but a music, a metaphysic, and finally a redemptive art. 


‘The greatest pleasure, whatever he chooses to write about, is O’Brien’s unforced gift, the ease of the writing, the phrases that seem to roll off his pen’ Kate Kellaway, Observer


Sean O’Brien has received numerous awards, including the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Forward Prize (three times), the E.M Forster Award and the Roehampton Poetry Prize. His Collected Poems appeared in 2012. Europa is his ninth collection. His work has been published in several languages. His novel Once Again Assembled Here was published in 2016. He is also a critic, editor, translator, playwright and broadcaster. Born in London, he grew up in Hull. He is Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.


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