Peter Robinson - Spirits of the Stair


Peter Robinson - Spirits of the Stair

Paperback, 148pp, 9x6ins

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When Peter Robinson published Untitled Deeds in 2004, a number of his readers expressed surprise that the writer who, as early as 1983, had been described as 'the finest poet of his generation' in PN Review and, two decades later in The Reader, 'the finest poet alive', should suddenly emerge from his exile in Japan as an aphorist. What had happened? While the Western world was declaring war on an abstraction, Robinson had been drawing up peace terms with a host of them. Finding weapons of mass destruction in the speechifying of politicians, and the toxicity of pension plan promises, feeling chilled by global warming, and hot under the collar, the poet found no other respite than to reach for his notebooks. What came from them were wrung-out dishcloths and acupuncturists' needles, sound bites that chew on what they eschew, salves for old saws, and less-is-more morsels which were promptly anthologized in The Bloodaxe Book of Poetry Quotations (2006) and Geary's Guide to the World's Great Aphorists (2007). Now, five years further, in Spirits of the Stair — Selected Aphorisms, Robinson's enlarged and extended reflections look out on the world and see a wounded head bandaged in clouds. These words that didn't come to mind when occasion demanded, words that were the right thing to say when the moment had passed, now reach us with a timely lateness that appears, for all that, to be just what we were waiting for.


"Robinson's book… is experimental and internationalist in approach, an exploration of possibilities, a tangle of travels and journeys. The incredible variety of its kinships (from Barthes' Lover's Discourse and Baudrillard's Fragments to Dr. Johnson and Dante) tell their own story about the sequence's elusive, provocative nature . . . Readers prepared to deliberate will want to spend more time tracing Robinson's careful and illuminating progress." —Peter Carpenter, The Use of English

"A book of aphorisms and prose fragments, is a departure . . . his prose is crisp and he has a good ear for the mix of closure and open-endedness that a good aphorism contains… A new direction? Certainly an interesting and welcome one." —Patrick McGuinness, Poetry Review


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