A book about bodies, dead and living, real and imagined, earthbound and resurrected
Corpus - Michael Symmons Roberts' Whitbread-Prize winning fourth collection - centres around the body. Mystical, philosophical and erotic, the bodies in these poems move between different worlds - life and after-life, death and resurrection - encountering pathologists' blades, geneticists' maps and the wounds of love and war.
Equally at ease with scripture (Jacob wrestling the Angel in 'Choreography') and science ('Mapping the Genome'), these poems are a thrilling blend of modern and ancient wisdom, a profound and lyrical exploration of the mysteries of the body:' So the martyrs took the lamb./ It tasted rich, steeped in essence/ Of anchovy. They picked it clean/ And found within, a goose, its pink/ Beak in the lamb's mouth like a tongue.' Ranging effortlessly between the physical extremes of death - from putrefaction to purification - and life - drought and flood, hunger and satiation - the poems in Corpus speak most movingly of 'living the half-life between two elements', of what it is to be unique and luminously alive.
Christina Patterson, Independent
“Michael Symmons Roberts is a religious poet, though not in the sense of brandishing doctrinal certainties; he reflects on the world in a way that is informed by a sense of grace, of transcendence, but the pieces are grounded in detail, beautifully expressed, subtly luminous.”
Robert Potts, Guardian