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About the Poet Paul Batchelor (b. 1977) has received several awards for his poetry including an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors, a Poetry Business Prize, and the Andrew Waterhouse Award. His first publication, To Photograph a Snow Crystal, was a prize-winner in the Smith Doorstop pamphlet competition, and his first full-length collection, The Sinking Road, was shortlisted for the Jerwood Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and the Glen Dimplex First Collection Prize in 2008. In 2009, Batchelor won both the Edwin Morgan International Poetry Competition (with 'Comeuppance') and the Stephen Spender Prize for Translation (with 'The Damned'). He is a critic for the Times and the Guardian, and general editor of a book of critical essays on the poet Barry MacSweeney.

The poems in this reading cover a wide range of themes and subjects, from open-cast mining and the practical but dangerous halver, or half-brick, to persecuted musicians and the scientific synthesis of snow. The work also reaches across time, from the contemporary text-speak that appears in 'Triage' to versions of the Suibne myth and Ovid's 'Tristia'. As Carrie Etter writes, Batchelor shows how "the present is always freighted with the past, which thus is part of the present."

His attention to the audible craft of poetry is well shown in the taut, short lines of 'Snow Melt', in which "snow melt over- / fills the burn, / stots off stone". The irregularly-metred sonnets of 'Findings' and the sinuous verbal music of 'Lebiyska Mova' show an admirable technical ability that confirms Simon Armitage's description of his work as "passionately, precisely and lyrically conveyed."

With Batchelor's native Northumbria audible in his reading voice, the use of dialect terms such as "stots" above may be no surprise; where these words are not clear from context, he is careful to explain words such as "flae-craa" from 'Butterwell' in his introductions. Similarly, where a poem requires specialist knowledge, he provides necessary information, so nothing prevents the poems from achieving what he has described as the important work of poetry: its "memorable, musical language and emotional intensity."

His recording was made for The Poetry Archive on 25 November 2008 and 21 October 2009 at the Audio Workshop, London and was produced by Anne Rosenfeld.
Which books contain this poem?
  • The Sinking Road
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