Andrew McMillan

pandemonium
  • pandemonium

  • *A 'BOOKS OF 2021' PICK IN THE GUARDIAN, FINANCIAL TIMES AND IRISH TIMES CULTURE*

    After two prize-winning collections which examined the intimacies and intricacies of the physical body, McMillan's third book marks a shift: both inward, into the difficult world of mental health, and outwards into the natural and political world.

    Keeping his trademark breath-space and lower-case lines, but more formally experimental, incorporating sequences and sonnets, the poems in pandemonium explore the fragility and depth of the human mind - in its panic and its troubled retreat - and map this turmoil onto the chaos and abundance of the garden. Depression is mirrored in the invasive, seemingly untreatable knotweed that slowly suffocates the garden, while the sky conspires in its sudden, terrifying clarity, 'as though the root of the world were ripped clean off'.

    McMillan has been celebrated for his unflinchingly frank depictions of the body and sexual love, but these new poems are raw dispatches from a mind in freefall, a body in trouble. Addressing a period of acute depression, they are less about physical union and completeness and more about fracture and distance: tender, savagely moving poems which stare, unblinkingly, into the sudden havoc and hurt of this world, searching for - and finally finding - some redemption.

Andrew McMillan's first collection, physical, was the first poetry collection to win the Guardian First Book Award; it also won a Somerset Maugham Award, an Eric Gregory Award, a Northern Writers' Award and the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. In 2019 it was voted as one of the top 25 poetry books of the past 25 years by the Booksellers Association. His second collection, playtime, won the inaugural Polari Prize. He is a senior lecturer at the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

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