The Customs House

Andrew Motion
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ISBN 9780571303151 Format Hardback
Published 18/10/2012 Length 96 pages

About Book

Andrew Motion's new book opens with a sequence of war poems (first published as the pamphlet Laurels and Donkeys, on Armistice Day 2010), drawing on soldiers' experiences from 1914 until today - beginning with a story about Siegfried Sassoon and moving via World War Two and Korea to recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many poems are in the voices of combatants, others are based on memories of the poet's father, who landed at D-Day and fought in France and Germany. They combine delicate understatement with a clear-eyed and unswerving candour.

The Customs House has other rooms: a group of loving topographies, mapping moments in a marriage against the contingencies of place and family history; and several 'found poems', in which the poet collaborates with his source, mixing what is there with what is not yet there, to uncanny effect: a remarkable sonnet sequence on the last days of the Baroque genius Francesco Borromini, and in other poems a richly imagined extrapolation from the silent premises of a painting.

  • About Andrew Motion

    Andrew Motion was Poet Laureate from 1999 to 2009; he is Professor of Creative Writing at Royal Holloway College, University of London, and co-founder of the online Poetry Archive. He has received numerous awards for his poetry, and has published four celebrated biographies. His group study The Lamberts won the Somerset Maugham Award and his authorised life of Philip Larkin won the Whitbread Prize for Biography. Andrew Motion's novella The Invention of Dr Cake (2003) was described as 'amazingly clever' by the Irish Times and praised for 'brilliant and almost hallucinatory vividness' by the Sunday Telegraph. His memoir, In the Blood (2006), was described as 'the most moving and exquisitely written account of childhood loss I have ever read' in the Independent on Sunday. His most recent collection of poems is The Customs House (2012). Andrew Motion was knighted for his services to poetry in 2009. In 2014 he received the Wilfred Owen Poetry Award.

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