How The Hell Are You
A new collection from Glyn Maxwell – one of the great poetic stylists of the era, and one of its leading dramatic voices – is always a cause for celebration.
Here, there are squibs and satires, lyrics and songs, poems written to family members and in memory of loved ones, a series of poems written by an artificial intelligence that will thrill and disturb in equal measure, and a chance for the blank page to finally speak for itself. But How The Hell Are You is, in its way, also a quietly political book: Maxwell regards poetry as truth-telling, and these poems – in their intimate, unsparing accounts and clear-eyed reckonings – recoil from the lies and fake news of the age to actually ‘tell it like it is’. How The Hell Are You shows a remarkable imagination and mind working at full tilt, and is the most powerful expression of Maxwell’s talent to date.
Formally dextrous, syntactically inventive, able to combine authentic emotion with self-reflexive dramatisation: for those in the know, a Maxwell collection is an event
A master stylist who shoots from the lip, Maxwell has a range and brio, from elegy to AI, that is constantly erudite and exhilarating
Carol Ann Duffy
It’s in distilling universal experiences that Maxwell shows the power of his oblique, understated approach and of his brilliant fusing of elaborate metrical patterns with the cadences of speech. Giving a pin sharp sense of the speaker’s feeling and tone, he can create emotions out of all proportion to their overt but not real object. By leaving it to us to find the real object behind the overt one, he makes the meaning and emotion rootthemselves more deeply in our minds.