We are still here on earth. With a troubled sense of wonder, Jeffrey Wainwright's new book witnesses to that earth's ordinariness, profusion and mystery. The collection begins with his beginning, a poem that evokes his own birth: 'Here I Come'. He concludes inevitably with 'Here I Go'.
In between are poems that describe and contemplate on the variety of life, ranging from a fleeing mouse to geology and gravity. History features, as so often in his poetry, with the earth's transition from inanimate matter to the fearsome and various place we know. There is a sequence on contemporary Manchester, another on the domestic and wider presence of coal, and a series on the iniquities of the British Empire – histories that connect and contend with one another.
Describing this last sequence, Shirley Chew notes the poet's 'preoccupation with words and history', his 'self-reflexive wit' and the 'wry look' he takes at the poet's art itself. He is a master of tones of voice, of registers, of patterns and rhythms, and his characteristic inventiveness is everywhere to be found in this book which touches on so many timely and timeless concerns Here on Earth