*Winner of the 2015 Guardian First Book Award*
Raw and urgent, these poems are hymns to the male body – to male friendship and male love – muscular, sometimes shocking, but always deeply moving.
We are witness here to an almost religious celebration of the flesh: a flesh vital with the vulnerability of love and loss, to desire and its departure. In an extraordinary blend of McMillan’s own colloquial Yorkshire rhythms with a sinewy, Metaphysical music and Thom Gunn’s torque and speed – ‘your kiss was deep enough to stand in’ – the poems in this first collection confront what it is to be a man and interrogate the very idea of masculinity. This is poetry where every instance of human connection, from the casual encounter to the intimate relationship, becomes redeemable and revelatory.
Dispensing with conventional punctuation, the poet is attentive and alert to the quality of breathing, giving the work an extraordinary sense of being vividly poised and present – drawing lines that are deft, lyrical and perfectly pitched from a world of urban dereliction. An elegant stylist and unfashionably honest poet, McMillan’s eye and ear are tuned, exactly, to both the mechanics of the body and the miracles of the heart.
Winner of the 2015 Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize
Shortlisted for the 2015 Costa Poetry Prize
Shortlisted for the 2015 Forward Prize for Best First Collection
When Andrew McMillan published his first poetry collection, physical, in 2015, the response was extraordinary. A tidal wave of praise pouring in from all sides marked it out as the sort of once-in-a-generation debut that causes everyone to sit up and take notice... physical was a collection unlike any other.
Andrew McMillan's award-winning debut collection, physical, a raw and tender exploration of gay love and desire, heralded him as a new force in contemporary poetry.
Andrew McMillan’s wide-awake debut anatomises male desire and its often thwarted expressions; these fresh and engaging poems enter the temple of longing in honest search for what may be found there, which turns out to be joy, desolation, secret languages, the possibilities of transformation and of disappointment borne in every touch.
physical really announces Andrew McMillan and it feels like a long while since a first book has managed this degree of tenderness and candour, sensuality and vulnerability. “There is beauty in the ordinary”, and every poem in this urgent, unflinching, exceptional debut affirms this.
Thom Gunn, the lodestar of this collection, said that poetry comes from obsession and passion. Few first books are as passionate, as carnal, as this one. McMillan’s work is a glorious, vivid exploration of the body as the loved and broken ground on which we meet and are transformed.