Riordan’s fifth collection of poems is both a dark art and an illuminating interrogation of contemporary anxiety and desire.
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Throughout the poems in Shoulder Tap, with their roaming sense of first-person, there is depth at work where the speakers’ minds are cavernous and echoic, primal and sophisticated, observant and raw, in and out of control of themselves. The effect is thrilling and unpredictable, at once a dark art and an illumination of behaviour and unease and wishfulness. The collection features disquieting songs of a mutable self alongside poignant elegies, interior journeys and subtle (and not so subtle) ripostes to the legacy of Trumpism – while encounters with ghostly feet and tongues of fire consort with riffs on Baudelaire, Rilke and Laforgue. These poems shimmer with mischief and twinkling humour, making for a pungent and haunting read. Here, Riordan – a poet whose strong, rippling influence is felt by all in his wake – affirms his reputation at the forefront of contemporary poetry.
Riordan is an exceptionally accomplished herdsman of words, corralling the unexpected into a single field and stoically soaring above his own doubts.
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