Acclaimed poet Nick Laird reflects on the strange and chaotic times we live in with singular precision, clarity, and daring.
Reeling in the face of collapsing systems, of politics, identity, and the banalities and distortions of modern living, Nick Laird confronts age-old anxieties, questions of aloneness, friendship, the push and pull of daily life. These poems transport us from a clifftop in Ireland’s County Cork to a bench in New York’s Washington Square, from a face-off between Freud and Michelangelo’s Moses to one between the poet and a squirrel in a London garden.
At the book’s heart lies the Forward Prize–winning title sequence, a profound meditation on a father’s dying at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. The reverberations of this knockout poem echo through the volume in its interrogations of inheritance and legacy, illness and justice, accounts of what is lost and what, if anything, can be retained. Amid rage, grief, and the conflagration of reality, Laird finds tenderness in the moments of connection that grow between the cracks and offers glimpses into the unadulterated world of childhood, where everything is still at stake and infinite.
Astonishing in its emotional range and intellect, Up Late is a powerful volume from an “exceptionally gifted poet” (Paul Muldoon, Times Literary Supplement).
About the Author
Nick Laird is a poet, novelist, screenwriter, and critic. His many honors include the Eric Gregory Award, the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. His fourth collection of poems, Feel Free, was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize and the Derek Walcott Award. The Seamus Heaney Professor of Poetry at Queen’s University, Belfast, Laird lives in London and Ireland.
Ruminative and daring…Laird [is] a wild poet-soul attentive to everything in poetic omniscience, challenging readers to see what he sees in the double witnessing of art’s power…This is mastery over formal limitation—a kaleidoscope of perfectly calibrated chains of attention, constraints that break, release and re-form. — Carol Muske-Dukes - Washington Post
Up Late is an incredible book. It finds a music for our moment—its fragilities and terrors, it sets restlessness to a rhythm. It finds a new kind of irony, one that confronts our endless gallop into a mechanical, artificial, made-up idea of future, and asks instead why are we here in the first place, asks so without patronizing, almost without irony itself. There is an honesty in the tone of this book that stays in mind days after the last page is turned.
— Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic
With Up Late, Nick Laird has stepped into his own future and produced a daring new poetic idiom that is all his own. His fortunate readers will be delighted and amazed.