James Sheard

The Abandoned Settlements
  • The Abandoned Settlements

  • James Sheard

    Shortlisted for the 2017 T. S. Eliot Prize
    PBS Autumn Recommendation

    The poems in James Sheard’s remarkable third book are about love and leaving, of how the rift of departure brings on a kind of haunting – of the people involved and the places where they lived – an emotional trace of departed lives and loves. This is what these poems are: the scars of separation, the spoors of desire. Sheard writes powerfully about loss, about how the vestiges of significance, of sensual heat, are retained by structures – in ghost towns, war-zones, deserted villages or resorts – but also by the human body and memory: ‘for love exists, and then is ruined, and then persists.’

    These are poems about permanence and fragility, of being uncertain whether the house you live in is a shell, or if you have become a shell by living there – whether emptiness means loss and abandonment or a clean start and a new beginning. But these are also poems full of the ache of desire, the tart, lingering smell of sex: poems shaped by longing.

    James Sheard is one of Britain’s most assured and precise lyric poets, and his third collection brings all his considerable strengths to poems as accurate and strange as thermal images.

James Sheard was born in Cyprus in 1962, and spent his childhood abroad, mainly in Singapore and Germany. As an adult, he spent periods living in Hamburg and Helsinki. His debut collection, Scattering Eva, was shortlisted for the 2005 Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Glen Dimplex Award for Poetry. Dammtor was published in 2010. He lives in mid-Wales and lectures at Keele University.