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The Built Moment

Lavinia Greenlaw

Winner of the East Anglian Book Award for Poetry – now in paperback.

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Lavinia Greenlaw’s last collection, The Casual Perfect (2011), focused on ‘the achievement of the provisional’. The Built Moment explores what we build out of the provisional: beginnings and endings, arrivals and departures, and the moments we fix as memories, fixing too their joy and pain.

The first section, ‘The Sea is an Edge and an Ending’, is a sequence of poems about her father’s dementia and his disappearance into the present tense. It is not a narrative of illness so much as a meditation on the metaphysics of memory and loss. What does it mean to exist only in the present, for your sense of self to come loose and for the past to float free? The second section, ‘The Bluebell Horizontal’, looks towards possibility, and proposes new frameworks in the face of loss. It includes a prayer, a blessing and a speculation on why we cling on to pain. There are structures that arrest remembering and forgetting, and the fundamental arrest of a poet’s difficulty with words.

The Built Moment masterfully demonstrates how, as we get older and death becomes more a part of life, what we build and what we break out of become more important than ever.

Critic Reviews

‘Time – what it is, how it shifts, what happens when we lose our grip on it – is at the heart of Lavinia Greenlaw’s new collection … here’s a subtlety and an intellectual curiosity to Greenlaw’s interrogation of this most fundamental subject that belies the wrench and rawness of the material: through her use of form, micro and macro, she manages to exemplify both her father’s experience of time and her own.’

Sarah Crown, Guardian
Critic Reviews

‘Lavinia Greenlaw’s coolly intellectual poems have a wide range of reference and an underlying urgency; The Built Moment shares a new intimacy as the poet reflects on her father’s dementia.’

Suzi Feay, Financial Times
Critic Reviews

‘Lavinia Greenlaw’s previous five volumes of poetry have proven her an essential voice: precise and illuminating, transforming the everyday with tender attention. The Built Moment starts from a deeply personal place … A volume of poetry that cuts to the most vital part of what it means to be human.’

Sarah Ditum, In the Moment

Lavinia Greenlaw was born in London where she has lived for most of her life. She studied seventeenth-century art at the Courtauld Institute, and was awarded a NESTA fellowship to pursue her interest in vision, travel and perception. Her poetry includes Minsk, which was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot, Forward and Whitbread Poetry Prizes. She has also published novels…

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