**WINNER OF THE POLARI PRIZE 2019**
‘Vivid, accessible and honest, sometimes uncomfortably so’ Alan Bennett, London Review of Books
In these intimate, sometimes painfully frank poems, Andrew McMillan takes us back to childhood and early adolescence to explore the different ways we grow into our sexual selves and our adult identities. Examining our teenage rites of passage: those dilemmas and traumas that shape us – eating disorders, masturbation, loss of virginity – the poet examines how we use bodies, both our own and other people’s, to chart our progress towards selfhood.
McMillan’s award-winning debut collection, physical, was praised for a poetry that was tight and powerful, raw and tender, and playtime expands that narrative frame and widens the gaze. Alongside poems in praise of the naivety of youth, there are those that explore the troubling intersections of violence, masculinity, class and sexuality, always taking the reader with them towards a better understanding of our own physicality. ‘isn’t this what human kind was made for’, McMillan asks in one poem, ‘telling stories learning where the skin/is most in need of touch’. These humane and vital poems are confessions, both in the spiritual and personal sense; they tell us stories that some of us, perhaps, have never found the courage to read before.
[An] equally page-turning second collection… McMillan is 30, but writes with the melancholy understatement for an older writer… McMillan’s pared-back style puts great weight on each word, often with magnetic results… McMillan wears his influences on his sleeve – Thom Gunn, Sharon Olds’s explicit Odes, a flicker of Book of Matches-era Simon Armitage – yet brings them together in a voice that is confident, captivating and distinctly his own… Any fans of physical worrying how McMillan could top one of the most widely praised debuts of recent years should breathe a sigh of relief: playtime may be a quieter collection, but it’s a deeper, richer one too.
Andrew McMillan’s second collection, playtime, is every bit as impressive as his first, physical… He seems attuned to the world around him and he has a sly sense of humour at his command. He is more than promising now.
[In playtime] McMillan makes it clear that the poetics of physical wasn’t a one-off. As with all the best second outings, this collection firmly establishes his patent… [a] fully realised, deeply humane collection.
McMillan scrutinises the violent idealism of masculinity in monologues that are both tender and steely… told with courage, invention and charm.
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. This, his second book, only cements that reputation... these poems are insightful, revealing, honest and brutally tender.