Shortlisted for the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection 2021
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.
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