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Paul Farley

b. 1965

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About Paul Farley

Paul Farley (b.1965) began winning awards with Poetry Review's Geoffrey Dearmer Prize, took the Forward Prize for Best First Collection with The Boy from the Chemist is Here to See You, and won the Whitbread Poetry Prize for his second, The Ice Age, which was also a Poetry Book Society Choice. He has been a teacher of creative writing, Poet in Residence at Dove Cottage, Wordsworth's home, and was chosen as a Next Generation Poet in 2004.

He has described poetry as "a long word which can be stretched". The sense of humour is easily seen in his work, and often evident in his wry introductions, as recorded here; the attention to the almost-physical sense of a word comes out in his strong use of rhyme and form. In addition to the powerful leavetaking of the everyday that builds in 'A Minute's Silence', the poem gains from being shaped in an elegiac metre familiar since Thomas Gray's classic, which Farley, rightly, draws attention to. It is possible that his formal interest is a kind of attention to materials, as he has also studied at the Chelsea School of Art, and - completing a satisfying circle - has been an art reviewer for Poetry Review.

His reading style skilfully allows these formal features to resonate, without distracting from the content, and does so in a voice that still acknowledges his native Liverpool. Parts of his home city - Speke Airport, bus termini, chip shops - figure in the poems, but mingle easily with Papal visits, dentistry and students suffering from scurvy. In 'Treacle', he takes a subject as grounded, as real, as a tin of treacle, and brings us through numinous details to both a sense of our place in history, and of stickiness. These are poems that try "to get around the back of these Big Safe Themes, to creep up on them", and the mundane nature of phone books and railway tunnels is a surprising and successful point from which to start that process.

His recording was made on 25 January 2001 at The Audio Workshop, London and was produced by Richard Carrington.

Paul Farley's Favourite Poetry Saying:

"Poetry is a long word which can be stretched" - Paul Farley

Additional material and useful links

2012 TS Eliot Prize shortlist announced

The Poetry Book Society is pleased to announce the shortlist for the 2012 T S Eliot Prize for Poetry. Gillian Clarke's Ice (Carcanet) has been shortlisted.

Selected bibliography

The Dark Film Picador, 2012

The Atlantic Tunnel: Selected Poems Faber, 2010

Field Recordings, Donut Press 2009


John Clare: Poems Selected by Paul Farley (editor),...

Tramp in Flames, Picador 2006


The Ice Age, Picador, 2002


The Boy From The Chemist is Here To See You, Picador,...


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