Was it for this Poems

Hannah Sullivan, 1979-

Book - 2023

"Hannah Sullivan's first collection, Three Poems, won the T. S. Eliot Prize and the inaugural John Pollard International Poetry Prize. Was It for This continues that book's project, offering a trenchant exploration of the ways in which we attempt to map our lives in space and time. But there is also the wider, collective experience to contend with, the upheaval of historic event and present disaster. "Tenants," the first poem, is an elegy for Grenfell, written from the uneasy perspective of a new mother living a few streets away. Elsewhere, from the terraces and precincts of seventies and eighties London to the late-at-night decks of American suburbs, intimately inhabited geographies provide reference points and sit...es for revisiting"--

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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor New Shelf 821.92/Sulllivan (NEW SHELF) Checked In
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2023.
Main Author
Hannah Sullivan, 1979- (author)
First American edition
Item Description
Subtitle from cover.
Originally published: London : Faber & Faber Ltd., 2023.
Physical Description
105 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Includes bibliographical references.
  • Tenants
  • Was it for this
  • Happy birthday.
Review by Library Journal Review

Like her T.S. Eliot Prize--winning Three Poems, British author Sullivan's new collection is maximalist in framework and minimalist in its relentless attention to moment-by-moment detail. These large poems assay London's 2017 Grenfell Tower fire, paralleled by the mundane work and worry of her early motherhood just a few streets away, and memories of her young adulthood in the United States, with minute, heavily felt detail of every place she lived and every move she made ("the shoddier and more unsatisfactory my accommodation there was…the lighter I became"). She also visits her childhood home (and houses she's considering buying) while discovering the past as bulwark for the present ("I wanted it all again to do again") and coming to see her time abroad as uncomfortably changeable; blunt but effective passages boldly explore the death of her father. Throughout, Sullivan seems to want to unburden herself, to get cleaner, so the poems end up thick with detail and can seem too obsessively, excessively descriptive. The thrum of lived experience finally gets hypnotic; readers just have to wait for the effect. VERDICT Perhaps not as absorbing as her first work, though this may depend on the reader; still, Sullivan remains an original and observant writer.--Barbara Hoffert

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