Aidan Semmens - A Stone Dog


"Aidan Semmens has been wringing the changes from words for the best part of 4 decades — patiently, determinedly, reluctantly, according to his condition. He has waited for time to strip away the desire to be a poet so that the very thing that is the poetry can stand alone without the fuss of rhetoric, so that it can finally now in this first full collection accord to his condition. The poems have been laid down, pebbles on the shore of a common sense, weighted with little ‘sparkplug epiphanies', waiting for the readers who will fling them into other seas than the one they came from. And they can wait. In their completeness, they know they're worth waiting for."  —Tony Baker

Read a review at Litter here.


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Aidan Semmens - A Stone Dog

Paperback, 80pp, 8.5x5.5ins

Download a PDF sampler from this book here.

Thirty-some years in journalism have left little obvious trace in Aidan Semmens's poetry — though, like the sports headlines he wrote for the News of the World, his verse is grounded in word-play and natural speech rhythms. In his first full-length collection he engages death, complexity, and the Authorised Version, which provides several of his titles. Other sources for his language include news magazines, war diaries, popular science and psychology texts, overheard phrases and the 2001 Aldeburgh Festival programme. This is a poetry of ideas and allusions, where, as in music or dream, any hinted-at narrative is liable to be subverted, taken to unexpected ends.

"Like the landscapes depicted here in sharp, staccato syntax, these poems are shifting contours. They are formed by a mobile quick-wittedness fit for purpose—the exploration of the gap between appearance and reality. We sense that this poet has seen things for himself — and they are not quite as reported elsewhere. The clarity of the literal vision predominates. Semmens doesn't blink in the face of the big scam, but in the sharply realised terms of these poems out-stares the merging deceptions surrounding us." —Kelvin Corcoran

"Aidan Semmens' poetry, sadly so little published heretofore, shows deft use of a range of more-or-less modernistic procedures encompassing a whole cultural agenda. A constant tension between contraries—disjunct and continuous, critical and consolatory, residual and resurgent… —nourishes sometimes extended texts and almost apocalyptic scenarios built up out of purposefully interconnected pieces. The intelligence of this writing shows in the very word edges, brightly accurate and carefully attentive. It sharpens our unease —

bread and politics

junk food of a tired nation

but also lets us be where we are in earthly recompense—

The view here is stunning,

five or six coloured hens,

a herd of sheep among scarlet anemones."

—Peter Riley

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