Limited pamphlet, 24 pages (November 2020)
Henry David Thoreau wrote of fallen leaves, ‘they teach us how to die’. Seven years in the making, Leaves is a long poem by Matthew Hollis, which holds loss and grief in one hand; new life in the other. It explores the relationship of a father and daughter, set in the perpetual choreography of autumn. What do we say to the young child who has discovered mortality? Here is an elemental cycle, a turning of generations: childhood to parenthood, parent to child, child to parent, a sense of deep time, shedding and passing, rooted in the body, balanced in the five elements of the Chinese tradition of Wu Xing, Fire (火huǒ), Water (水shuǐ), Wood (木mù), Metal (金jīn), and Earth (土tǔ). In Leaves, Matthew Hollis intuits and rediscovers a sense of the life force of hope.
Leaves is available from London Review Bookshop.
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ISBN: None (limited run of fewer than 400 copies)
Letterpress pamphlet, 16 pages (October 2016)
This new edition of Stones is a handmade book, printed letterpress with metal and wood type, then hand bound in an edition of fewer than four hundred copies. It was printed by Graham Moss in Bembo type on Zerkall paper supplied by John Purcell of Brixton. The wood type is Delittle of York’s Number 43, made in the 1950s.
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Clutag Five Poems Series No. 8
ISBN: 9780993537646 (limited run of 100 numbered copies)
Hand-made pamphlet, 16 pages (May 2016)
Clutag Five Poems is a contemporary poetry series in limited editions of hand-made copies. East is number 8 in the series and features poems written by Matthew Hollis since Now All Roads Lead to France: the Last Years of Edward Thomas was awarded the 2011 Costa Award for Biography. The five poems here arrive dressed in the sharp sea-light and big skies of East Anglia. Emotionally subtle, they come with their wits and wit tellingly about them, journeying through Suffolk’s waterways and the coasts of Norfolk, before fetching up at Scolt Head Island.
Clutag, from the Irish meaning ‘cover’ or ‘meadow’, began issuing hand-printed editions in 2000 by Seamus Heaney, Geoffrey Hill, Tom Paulin and others. The Five Poems Series started in 2015, with East published simultaneously alongside number 7 by Hugo Williams. Printed in artful Garamond type on a weighty paper stock, the edition of 100 numbered, individually hand-sewn and printed copies is available from Clutag Press signed by the author or uninscribed, or from the London Review Bookshop.
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ISBN: None (limited run of 160 numbered copies)
Letterpress pamphlet, 16 pages (April 2016)
Stones is the first publication from Matthew Hollis since Now All Roads Lead to France: the Last Years of Edward Thomas in 2011. A longer poem of around 200 lines, it takes its setting from the Lake District, and is handsomely illustrated by a wood engraving by Paul Kershaw. It was here that the author was living when he began work on the poem in 2006; it has taken a decade and more than 300 pages of drafts to since complete. It is this very element of time, and its contribution to our well being, that occupies the poem: after trauma, how can we live well in the present without doubting or denigrating the past? Or must we retain our connection to formative experience, whatever the personal cost, in order to understand the present?
Stones is printed in Verona type, a Stephenson Blake face from 1925 that has not yet been digitised, on Zerkall paper with a sedimentary watermark. The titling is DeLittle of York’s Number 41, a sans serif wood type. The cover paper was handmade in Montreal at the Papeterie St-Armand for this book. The edition is of 160 individually hand-printed copies, each numbered, and signed by the author, now sold out.
Now All Roads Lead to France
The Last Years of Edward Thomas
Faber and Faber / W. W. Norton
ISBN: 9780571245987 / 9780571245994 / 9780393089073
Hardback, 416 pages (4 August 2011) / Paperback (5 January 2012) / Norton Hardback (22 October 2012)
Edward Thomas was the most beguiling of the poets who lost their lives in the First World War. More or less unread in his lifetime, his writing has had a powerful influence on poetry today. This haunting account of his final five years is centred on his extraordinary friendship with Robert Frost and Thomas’s decision, in 1915, to enlist in the army and go to fight in France.
Now All Roads Lead to France is also an evocation of an astonishingly creative moment in English literature, a time when London was both the world capital for poets and a battleground for new, ambitious kinds of writing. With the Victorian poets discredited, a younger generation that included W. B. Yeats, Rupert Brooke, Robert Frost and Ezra Pound were ‘making it new’ and quarrelling with ever increasing vehemence: Pound even challenged one of his ‘conservative’ peers to a duel.
These larger-than-life characters surround a central figure at first tormented by feelings of failure in his work and in his marriage. But friendship with Frost, when it blossomed in 1913, brought about an unimaginable change in Thomas. Under Frost’s encouragement Thomas began writing poem after poem and as he found a new sense of self-respect his emotional affliction began to lift. In 1914 the two friends formed the ideas that would produce some of the most remarkable verse of the twentieth century. But the War put an ocean between them: Frost returned to the safety of New England while Thomas stayed to fight for the Old.
It is these roads taken – and those not taken – that are at the heart of this unforgettable book, which culminates in Thomas’s tragic death on Easter Monday 1917.
Winner of the Costa Biography Award
Winner of the H. W. Fisher Biography Award
Sunday Times Biography of the Year
BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week
Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award for Non-Fiction
From reviews of Now All Roads Lead to France
‘I read this book entranced, inspired, anxious and grateful and I finished it in tears. It is important and it is wonderful.’
Carol Ann Duffy
‘Hollis’s fine book helps us to understand how much more there is to Thomas than willow-herb and meadowsweet and haycocks dry.’
Robert Macfarlane, Guardian
‘An acute and unforgettably moving study of friendship and creativity.’
Miranda Seymour, Sunday Times, Biography of the Year
‘Like Edward Thomas’s poetry, Now All Roads Lead to France is a work of careful, unobtrusive excellence, subtle insight and great emotional power.’
‘Thoughtful and scrupulous book . . . A bravura critical performance.’
John Carey, Sunday Times
‘Hollis movingly analyses these [poems] and writes heart-stoppingly . . . This is a brilliant and superbly written study by a writer, himself a poet, who understands his subject with acute but critical sympathy.’
Nigel Jones, Sunday Telegraph, Book of the Week
‘Now All Roads Lead To France is a beautiful biography, an unfussy, clear-headed study of the making of a poet, and perhaps above all, a gentle reminder that poetry can be almost as essential to the human spirit as breathing.’
Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday, Book of the Week
‘Finally gives the poet’s poet among the dead of the Great War the measured and moving biographical treatment he deserves.’
Jonathan Bate, Sunday Telegraph, Books of the Year
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Selected Poems of Edward Thomas
Faber and Faber
ISBN: 9780571235698 / 9780571313631 / 9780571328772
Paperback, 224 pages (4 August 2011) / Hardback (4 July 2014) / Hardback (19 May 2016)
When Edward Thomas was killed at the Battle of Arras in 1917 his poems were largely unpublished. But in the years since his death, his work has come to be cherished for its rare, sustained vision of the natural world and as ‘a mirror of England’ (Walter de la Mare). This edition, drawn from Thomas’s manuscripts and typescripts as well as from his published works, offers an accessible introduction to this most resonant – and relevant – of poets.
‘In his lifetime, he was known and loved by a very, loving few. Now, since his death, he is known and loved by very many, and yearly this is more so. There is in his poems and unassumingly profound sense of permanence. A war came and ditched him, but his poems stay with no other wounds than those which caused them.’
‘A very fine poet. And a poet all in his own right. The accent is absolutely his own.’
‘The one hundred and forty poems he wrote in the last two years of his life are a miracle. I can think of no body of work in English that is more mysterious.’
From reviews of Selected Poems of Edward Thomas
‘For those who don’t know Thomas, this is an excellent introduction to the work of arguably the most influential English poet of the 20th century; and for those who already love him, the perspectives cast by the prose pieces are invaluable.’
Adam Newey, Guardian
‘Matthew Hollis introduces us to some sublime poems, and also some very moving prose.’
Lesley McDowell, Independent
‘Selected Poems is a welcome companion [to Now All Roads Lead to France] and something of a misnomer as it contains much of the prose discussed in the biography and reworked into verse. It is fascinating to compare, say, the prose piece The White Horse, about a pub near Thomas’s Hampshire home, with Up in the Wind, the poem that it became.’
Paul Dunn, The Times
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Paperback, 64 pages (29 January 2004)
In this sparkling debut, Matthew Hollis immerses us in the undercurrents of our lives. Love and loss are buoyed by a house full of milk, an orchard underwater, the laws of walking on water. Rainwater, floodwater, flux – the liquid landscapes which shift relentlessly in Ground Water – threaten and comfort by turns.
Matthew Hollis’s poems are brimming with courage in adversity as well as the promise of renewal, culminating in a powerful sequence about his father’s struggle with terminal illness. Ground Water is a startling first collection from a remarkable new poet.
Shortlisted for Whitbread Poetry Award
Shortlisted for Guardian First Book Award
Shortlisted for Forward Prize for Best First Collection
Poetry Book Society Recommendation
Independent, Independent on Sunday and Spectator, Books of the Year 2004, recommendation
From reviews of Ground Water
‘An impressive debut . . . the metaphorical language is finely judged, touching both the landscapes and the people crawling its surface with a shrewd but never less than sympathetic gaze.’
D. J. Taylor, Guardian
‘Matthew Hollis shows an impressive confidence in the promptings of the imagination and no desire at all to ingratiate himself. Craft, not attitude, is what counts. Poems are sometimes called “quiet” when really they’re inaudible. His are genuinely quiet, drawing in the ear to enjoy, for example, his artful rendering in slowed folk-song rhythm of the terror and excitement of floods.’
Sean O’Brien, Sunday Times
‘Nothing in this first collection is clumsy . . . Ground Water is never sentimental, a tribute to the author’s attention to the way in which he makes the language of his poetry an event in itself… it announces Matthew Hollis as a fascinating prospect.’
Stephen Knight, Times Literary Supplement
‘A debut collection of strking accomplishment and emotional range.’
‘A first collection from a young poet of real promise. His poems are technically assured, but sweetened by a well managed sentimentality.’
Independent on Sunday
‘Hollis’s language is often scrupulous and surprising: he relishes the words as the puts them down, without preening.’
‘Affecting, redolent with sorrow but resolutely tough-minded.’
Poetry Book Society Bulletin
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101 Poems Against War
Faber and Faber
Paperback, 160 pages (3 March 2003)
From the earliest times poets have spoken out against the horrors of war – many dying on the battlefields on which they wrote.
This extraordinary anthology gathers together the most startling poems against war ever written – from an infamous last stand in Ancient Greece to the chemical warfare of the present day Gulf. Featuring many of our most treasured poets – Wilfred Owen, Philip Larkin, Stevie Smith and Emily Dickinson among them – 101 Poems Against War selects too from the poems being written across the barricades: the enemy soldier, a German widow, a young Vietnamese boy, and by the Arabic poets of today.
From the men who held their dying friends to the agony of the women left behind, this anthology gathers moments of warning and protest from all corners of the earth: the times in which it was left to the poets to speak out against the true terror of war.
All royalties from the sale of this book will go to Mines Advisory Group
The Times, Books of the Year 2003, recommendation
From reviews of 101 Poems Against War
‘101 Poems Against War is timely. Though published before the Iraq War, its resonances are compelling . . . The experience of war is everywhere in the Faber anthology.’
‘In a literary response to the groundswell of public opinion against war in Iraq . . . this latest moving anthology will capture the mood of much of the nation.’
‘The greatest power of war poetry lies in its integrity, in the way it can work to close the imaginative gulf between those who may sit at home and those who must meet horror face to face. The poems in this volume (the proceeds of which go to charity) work to adjust a dangerously wall-eyed world view.’
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Modern Poets on Modern Poetry
Paperback, 320 pages (26 October 2000)
Poetry has never been so rigorous and diverse, nor has its audience been so numerous and engaged. Strong words? Not if the poets are right. As Ezra Pound wrote: ‘You would think anyone wanting to know about poetry would go to someone who knew something about it.’ That’s exactly what Bloodaxe has done with this judicious and comprehensive selection of British, Irish and American manifestos by some of modern poetry’s finest practitioners.
Opening the 20th century account with Ezra Pound, W. B. Yeats and T. S. Eliot, the book moves through key later figures including W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Stevie Smith and Dylan Thomas. America is richly represented too, from Robert Frost and William Carlos Williams to the influential New England poets Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop and Sylvia Plath.
Strong Words then brings the issues fully up to date with over 30 specially commissioned statements from contemporary writers including Seamus Heaney, Andrew Motion, Simon Armitage, Selima Hill, Paul Muldoon and Douglas Dunn, amounting to a new overview of the poetry being written at the start of the 21st century.
For poets and readers, for critics, teachers and students of creative writing and contemporary poetry, this is essential reading. As well as representing many of the most important poets of the last hundred years, Strong Words charts many different stances and movements, from Modernism to Postmodernism, from Futurism to the future theories of poetry. This landmark book champions the continuing dialogue of these voices, past and present, exploring the strongest form that words can take: the poem.
BBC Radio 3, Book of the Month, October 2000
Financial Times, Books of the Year 2000, recommendation
From reviews of Strong Words
‘Utterly compelling . . . Strong Words brings together a diverse collection of essential commentaries in a single volume.’
BBC Radio 3
‘As good a Bible as any.’
‘One turns to verse after reading Strong Words with a new every, inspiration and insight.’
Times Literary Supplement
‘An erudite and sophisticated book, a mosaic of the 20th century’s stylistic variety and formal ingenuity.’
Scotland on Sunday
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The Boy on the Edge of Happiness
Paperback, 28 pages (31 May 1996)
From reviews of The Boy on the Edge of Happiness
‘Matthew Hollis founded ibid in 1993 but, with proper discretion, has not used it to publish a book of his own poems. His first collection, from Smith/Doorstop Books, is about as good as you are likely to get from a new poet. It is intelligent, unpretentious, sometimes funny, and leaves a good taste in the mouth. There is no fashionable laddish giggling or sneering, just a sharp wit, critical or compassionate as need be.’
Books in Scotland
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