Rotten Days in Late Summer

Rotten Days in Late Summer

Summary

A TELEGRAPH AND IRISH TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR

SHORTLISTED FOR THE FORWARD PRIZE FOR BEST FIRST COLLECTION
SHORTLISTED FOR THE JOHN POLLARD FOUNDATION INTERNATIONAL POETRY PRIZE

'Impressive . . . tender, unflinching'
Guardian
'This is poetry in the grand tradition of annihiliation by desire. It's what the young are always learning, and the old, if they are wise, never forget' Anne Boyer, author of The Undying
'Brilliant . . . heralds the arrival of a frank and vital poetic voice' Sharlene Teo, author of Ponti
'Frank and alert . . . an important voice in British poetry' Eley Williams, author of The Liar's Dictionary
'Direct and heart-breaking' Alex Dimitrov, author of Love and Other Poems
'A rare thing . . . razor-sharp' Julia Copus, author of This Rare Spirit: A Life of Charlotte Mew

In Rotten Days in Late Summer, Ralf Webb turns poetry to an examination of the textures of class, youth, adulthood and death in the working communities of the West Country, from mobile home parks, boyish factory workers and saleswomen kept on the road for days at a time, to the yearnings of young love and the complexities of masculinity.

Alongside individual poems, three sequences predominate: a series of 'Love Stories', charting a course through the dreams, lies and salt-baked limbs of multiple relationships; 'Diagnostics', which tells the story of the death from cancer of the poet's father; and 'Treetops', a virtuosic long poem weaving together grief and mental health struggles in an attempt to come to terms with the overwhelming data of a life.

The world of these poems is close, dangerous, lustrous and difficult: a world in which whole existences are lived in the spin of almost-inescapable fates. In searching for the light within it, this prodigious debut collection announces the arrival of a major new voice in British poetry.

Reviews

  • It's a rare thing to come across a debut collection as cohesive and accomplished as Rotten Days in Late Summer. Whether writing on love, class, illness, the working life, death or the complex and multi-faceted nature of human desire, Ralf Webb is never less than razor-sharp. With a storyteller's flair, he evokes a world of shifting terrains in which 'anything could be an omen', and where refrains, motifs, stanza shapes and rhymes call to each other across the pages. In his extraordinary 'Treetops' sequence, Webb navigates the labyrinths of mental illness and the ambiguous prize of health . . . It all feels gloriously, anarchically new
    Julia Copus

About the author

Ralf Webb

Ralf Webb grew up in the West Country. He co-ran the Swimmers pamphlet and event series, and from 2017 to 2021 was managing editor of The White Review. Recently, he ran the Arts Council England-funded PoetryxClass reading group project. His writing has appeared widely, including in the London Review of Books, Poetry Review, PAIN, Prototype, Hotel, Oxford Poetry and Fantastic Man. This is his first collection.
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