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Gen is the eagerly awaited second collection by Jonathan Edwards, whose debut, My Family and Other Superheroes, won the Costa Prize for Poetry in 2015. This accessible and critically acclaimed young poet has beaten off ‘second collection syndrome’ with a book of sharp yet beautifully warm and humane poems. The title refers to people of Edwards’ generation and his recognition of the preoccupations that he shares of this age-group. There are several terrific love poems and poems of romantic yearning, which reflect this.
In addition, Edwards further mines his family for writing which is at once intimate, generous and wry. ‘Harry Houdini on Newport Bridge, 1905’ relates an anecdote where his grandfather, aged 15, makes mischief in the watching crowd. And ‘My Father Crashes a Car, 1965’ is a similarly warm and slightly surreal retrieval of a memory from his father. Several of the poems in Gen have already won prizes, and the book must be a contender for more shortlists. Whatever the prize judges think, the poetry reading public will again warm to this poet.
Winner of the People's Choice Award, Wales Book of the Year 2019
‘As always Edwards' writing is at once bold and sweeping whilst also managing to maintain a homely and intimate voice that feels personal.’ – Ben Ray
Throughout the collection, demotic patter is combined with virtuoso craft. What can you say about a sonnet like ‘On Hearing You Have Lost Your New Love’, at once bitter, tender and true? What can you say about a gut punch like the ending of ‘Aberfan’? Or about a title like ‘Samuel Taylor Coleridge Walking from The Queen’s Head, Gray’s Inn, to Honsby’s and Co., Cornhill, to Buy an Irish Lottery Ticket, November 1793’? I will say this: Gen is a vibrant, brilliant book, and Edwards is one of my favourite writers. – Joe Caldwell
Edwards shows a new breadth of vision, and the ability to encompass tragedy. His poems about Aberfan and Tryweryn have the air of instant classics. – The Lonely Crowd