The Big Calls


by Maxwell, Glyn | Poetry
Published on 15/03/2023 by Live Canon

SKU: '9781909703414 Category:


‘We got the big calls right.’
Did you.

In Glyn Maxwell’s graveyard shift, Kipling’s If is about Grenfell Tower, Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade about the Johnson government’s response to Covid, and Rossetti’s Goblin Market a dark tale of England under the tabloids.

‘Ours is not the world and all that’s in it,
Ours is how we live and if we care…’ 

Oscar Wilde, the Brownings and Gerard Manley Hopkins chime in with poems about the hacking scandal, the Met Police, Afghanistan, and the death of migrants in the Channel.

‘Sixty years and I will have my say
on England, fond and fooled and wrecked
and sinking with three cheers in the dissolving light…’

‘Genius. A work of both tradition and sedition, of essential political inquiry. Playful, erudite and passionate, a hymn to the state of the nation.’ Joelle Taylor

‘Glyn Maxwell locks himself up in the traditional forms of English verse and throws away the key; only to escape before our very eyes in a white-hot rage directed at the maleness – politicians, police, planners – which is laying waste to England. This is a dazzling, heroic and virtuoso endeavour from one of our finest poets.’ Carol Ann Duffy 

‘Maxwell performs a magic trick: a homage to famous poems that makes us simultaneously remember and forget the source: it’s a tome dipped in a dream, a renegade covers album, and completely his own.’ Caroline Bird

Glyn Maxwell is a poet, playwright, librettist and teacher. His poetry books include How The Hell Are You, Pluto, Hide Now, and The Breakage, all of which were shortlisted for the Forward or T. S. Eliot Prizes, and The Nerve, which won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. His Selected Poems, One Thousand Nights and Counting, was published on both sides of the Atlantic in 2011, and his epic poem Time’s Fool is in development as a feature-length film with Fox Searchlight.

On Poetry, a guidebook for the general reader, was published in 2012. The Spectator called it ‘a modern classic’ and The Guardian’s Adam Newey described it as ‘the best book about poetry I’ve ever read.’ Drinks With Dead Poets, a fictional sequel, followed in 2016. Maxwell is working on a philosophical amplification of On Poetry titled Silly Games To Save the World.

His plays have been staged widely in the UK and the US. His opera libretti include The Firework Maker’s Daughter, which was nominated for ‘Best New Opera’ at the Oliviers in 2014, and Nothing (also for composer David Bruce) which was nominated for the same prize in the Sky Arts Awards in 2017. He has also written libretti for Elena Langer and Luke Bedford, and for Mozart’s The Magic Flute. His new version of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman premières in London in the summer of 2023 and will tour several port cities of the UK.

Maxwell has taught at the Universities of Warwick and Essex in the UK, at Columbia, Princeton, NYU, The New School and Amherst College in the USA, and now teaches on the Writing Poetry MA at The Poetry School.

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