Shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry 2018
Nick Laird has been an assured and brilliant voice in contemporary poetry since his acclaimed debut, To a Fault, in 2005. Feel Free, his fourth collection, effortlessly spans the Atlantic, combining the acoustic expansiveness of Whitman or Ashbery with the lyricism of Laird’s forebears, Heaney, MacNeice and Yeats. With characteristic variety, invention and wit (here are elegies, monologues, formal poems and free verse) the poet explores the sundry patterns of freedom and constraint—the family, the impress of history, the body itself—and how we might transcend them.
Feel Free is always daring, always renewing, and Laird’s most remarkable work to date.
Praise for Feel Free
“Excellent … the highlights of the book are love poems and city poems for the Information Age: the poet’s situations and relationships — as a father, a son, a husband—are sized up and filtered through different kinds of brilliantly manipulated language … compulsive and inventive … Laird’s best book yet.” –The Irish Times
“Throughout this outstanding collection, there is the sense of an elsewhere, at once tantalisingly close and unreachable … the greatest joy of reading this unmissable collection is Laird’s peripheral vision as a poet: the deer seen from a suburban train; the unplanned signature on a windowsill in deep red dust; the many glimpses of elsewhere.”—The Observer
“[Laird] finds himself entering the heartland of middle age. It’s bittersweet for the writer but rewarding for the reader … There is a satisfying masculinity to the collection … ‘Incantation’ borrows lines from Frank O’Hara and Kurt Vonnegut to make something particularly beautiful.”—The Sunday Times
“Few contemporary poets can make old poetic forms feel natural and lyrical the way Laird can … The collection’s driving concern [is] is it possible to feel free when hemmed in by mortality? Laird’s poetry offers a tentative “yes” by way of skillful fluidity in the face of captivity.”—London Magazine
“Laird transports the speaker and the reader to some other place, and returns you, a little changed … his poems are beautiful.”—Manchester Review
“Feel Free shows this exceptionally gifted poet extending what is by now a real range.”—TLS Books of the Year 2018