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The Curiosities is the eleventh book of poems from this most inventive and celebrated of British poets. Clustering around the letter ‘C’, the seventy-some poems that comprise this collection celebrate a lexicon of lived experience through a single letter of the alphabet. Here we find tales of cufflinks and costume, cougars and cochineal, catapults and cavalry, even canoodlings in canoes. With a characteristic sleight of hand, Christopher Reid shifts deftly between seriousness and play, elegy and anarchy in this sometimes-zany, sometimes-haunting compendium of bright-eyed verses. Here and there the story-telling roams and sweeps: here are tales ‘for’ friends and loved ones, there are tales ‘after’ the great poets of history. But whoever and whatever the mode of address, these poems are frequently underpinned by a unifying humanity. The Curiosities is a temptatious read, full of wisdom and surprise, humour and lament, and is a poignant and convincing reminder that in a world where ‘nobody’s allowed to live forever’, life is for celebrating, and grasping by the collar.
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