The Acts of Oblivion (Paperback)

The Acts of Oblivion By Paul Batchelor Cover Image
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The 'Acts of Oblivion' were a series of seventeenth-century laws enacted by both Parliamentarian and Royalist factions. Whatever their ends—pardoning revolutionary deeds, or expunging revolutionary speech from the record—they forced the people to forget. Against such injunctions, Paul Batchelor's poems rebel. This long-awaited second collection, The Acts of Oblivion, listens in on some of England's lost futures, such as those offered by radical but sidelined figures in the English Civil War, or by the deliberately destroyed mining communities of North East England, remembered here with bitter, illuminating force. The book also collects the acclaimed individual poems 'Brother Coal' and 'A Form of Words,' alongside visions of the underworld as imagined by Homer, Lucian, Lucan, Ovid, and Dante. Intensely characterized and novelistic in their detail and in their grasp of national catastrophes, the poems in The Acts of Oblivion vindicate Andrew McNeillie's description of Batchelor as 'the most accomplished poet of his generation.'

About the Author

English poet and critic Paul Batchelor's first collection of poems, The Sinking Road, was published in 2008. A chapbook, The Love Darg, was published by Clutag in 2014. He has won the Times Stephen Spender Prize for Translation and the Edwin Morgan International Poetry Prize. His reviews have appeared in the New Statesman, the Guardian, Poetry, and the Times Literary Supplement. He is Director of Creative Writing at Durham University.

Praise For…

"Paul Batchelor's big takes on history, power, landscape, language and labor keep skewing intimate; he ever inflects his observations of things, and of the local, with fascinating perspective, with memory both individual and collective. The Acts of Oblivion is wonderfully difficult to boil down to easy summary of methods and subjects, for Batchelor's formal range is enormous, his imagination and his tones flexible and intricate. But he comes back and back to what we keep and what we destroy, maybe especially to what we say and what we can't or won't let ourselves say — what we prevent ourselves or are prevented from saying — and how language lives in us and in our acts. How our acts might be, themselves, a kind of language. Does this make him sound esoteric? He's the opposite. 'O halver — ,' he writes in an ode to a brick, '...when words fail may you always be at hand.' Yes please!" —Daisy Fried


"The irony of Acts of Oblivion is that it is entirely composed of acts of excavation. Personal and historical memory are intertwined, as with a sequence of poems about growing up in a mining village (memories and ancestry are like coal — dangerous extractions: live or cold). Another sequence takes on yet another paradox, 'the marble veil,' which delves into questions of what is revealed and concealed in art and its history. These aren't academic concerns in Batchelor's hands; the poems are dramatic monologues inflected with big emotions: exhilaration, terror, wonder. They are parables for our time. They wear their accent proudly, and make the English language proud, in a double sense: projecting, splendid. It is a collection that rewards deep reading, engagement, and rendering aloud. It rings out. It's brilliant." —Ange Mlinko

Product Details
ISBN: 9781800171992
ISBN-10: 1800171994
Publisher: Carcanet Press Ltd.
Publication Date: February 24th, 2022
Pages: 144
Language: English