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Matthew Francis

Fact meets fable, and science meets reason in Muscovy by Matthew Francis, this magical new collection from the acclaimed poet.

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Like his acclaimed Mandeville (2008), Matthew Francis’s fourth Faber collection explores a world of marvels, real and fantastic. A man takes off for the moon in an engine drawn by geese, a poltergeist moves into a remote Welsh village, and a party of seventeenth-century Englishmen encounter the wonders of Russia – sledges, vodka, skating and Easter eggs. The scientist Robert Boyle basks in the newly discovered radiance of phosphorus (the noctiluca of the title) and the theme of light in darkness is taken up by the more personal poems in the book: phoneboxes, streetlamps, moonlight. The joys of the world and of the imagination find their equivalent in Francis’s joy in the possibilities of language:

‘A basket of snow for the Empress / with a poem of
modest triumph: / I made this out of what does not last.’

Critic Reviews

At their best these tales of the unexpected are a treat ... full of suspense and charisma.

Aingeal Clare, Guardian
Critic Reviews

Francis has a taste for finding the exotic within the mundane and loves tall tales. Ghosts and lonely spirits haunt these pages but wordplay creates a sense of fun that increases the pleasure.

Mark Sanderson, Sunday Telegraph
Critic Reviews

Francis shifts registers effortlessly, throws voices and generally whips the proverbial cast of thousands through his hoops with a ringmaster's aplomb.

Conor O'Callaghan, Poetry Review
Critic Reviews

Inventive, unashamedly clever, beautifully exact.

Craig Raine, TLS Books of the Year

Matthew Francis is the author of four Faber collections, most recently Muscovy (2013). He has twice been shortlisted for the Forward Prize, and in 2004 was chosen as one of the Next Generation poets. He has also edited W. S. Graham’s New Collected Poems, and published a collection of short stories and two novels, the second of which, The Book…

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