Winner of the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Jerwood Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, the Ireland Chair of Poetry Prize, and shortlisted for a number of other awards besides, To a Fault (2005) signalled the arrival of a significant new talent. On Purpose, Nick Laird’s follow-up volume, confirms the promise of that first book, and shows the author hitting new and yet more athletic strides. Blending tones of assurance and delicacy, of confidence and vulnerability, On Purpose is a collection of poems that takes care and consideration in examining the often brutal arena of human relations.
Informed both by a sense of wit and by an undercurrent of melancholy, the book thoughtfully provokes concepts of happiness and sadness, of warring and reparation, of dissent and the abandonment of the religious for the secular. Frequently pivoting around familial relations, the volume concludes with a mercurial and affecting sequence about a marriage, which takes as its point of departure that most influential of military treatises, The Art of War.