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Love Minus Love

Love Minus Love

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Shortlisted for the 2020 T.S. Eliot Prize

Poetry Book Society Wild Card Choice

Wayne Holloway-Smith's second book-length book of poetry, Love Minus Love, is an internal universe, fragmented and glued back together with uncanny logic. A strange layering of time, in which multiple things happen at once, in a looping track of intrusive thoughts – shot through with dead cows, pop songs, dead dads, the white noise of televisions – rotten teeth are raining everywhere. Somewhere at the core of all this, the seemingly fixed boundaries of masculinity, family, trauma and mental health are blurred towards a new type of vinegary identity, in a pitch of emotional intensity that punches you right in the gut.

Wayne Holloway-Smith's debut collection Alarum was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry Prize and the Roehampton Poetry Prize as well as being a Poetry Book Society Wild Card Choice. His poem 'the posh mums are boxing in the square' – included in Love Minus Love – won first prize in the Poetry Society's 2018 National Poetry Competition.

‘Wayne Holloway-Smith’s Love Minus Love is fiercely playful in its confrontation of truths that are as familiar, and familial, as they are painful: how we are always situated in relation, and how we depend on those dynamics, however toxic, to define ourselves. The work traces the erosion of connection between child and parent, meaning and language, body and self.’ – Lavinia Greenlaw, Chair of Judges, T S Eliot Prize 2020

‘Distorted masculinity haunts Wayne Holloway-Smith’s second collection, Love Minus Love, which circles without self-pity around a violent father and an eating disorder. Like the “posh mums . . . boxing in the square” in his winning entry to the National Poetry Competition, Holloway-Smith’s nervy, quick verse has a light touch with real feeling behind it.’ - Jeremy Noel-Tod, The Sunday Times

‘Wayne Holloway-Smith’s second collection, Love Minus Love, is a stunning long poem (or poem sequence). Holloway-Smith images can be surreal, nightmarish, traumatic and hilarious. Best of all, among the book’s heart-rending honesty, he is relentlessly inventive, catching us off guard.’ - Seán Hewitt, The Irish Times (Best Poetry Books of 2020)

‘I’ve been enjoying the exceptional poetry books published this year, in particular those that opened out to me new possibilities of what poems can do — like being shaken awake! In particular, Daisy Lafarge’s Life Without Air (Granta, 2020) and Wayne Holloway-Smith, Love Minus Love (Bloodaxe, 2020).’ - Lucy Mercer, The White Review (Books of the Year 2020)

‘Wayne Holloway-Smith’s second collection, Love Minus Love, takes the form of a long sequence of untitled poems, where moments, phrases, and even individual words bleed into each other, deconstructing notions of a singular ‘speaker’ and transforming the sequence into a fragmented pattern of recurring, intrusive anxieties. It’s a book preoccupied with trauma and harm, at both the individual and societal level… But amongst these blistering critiques there is also love, tenderness, and hope…’ - Andy Parkes, Poetry School (Poetry Books of the Year 2020)

Love Minus Love by Wayne Holloway-Smith - This book is cool as hell. So cool it throws titles into the gutter, it sticks words together, it swings narratives round its little finger and it jumps on any preconception you have about poetry. This book runs like a comic strip, turning you on every page leading you up a path and then throwing you over a fence. Wayne is the don at the unexpected and I feel this trumps Alarum in its ability to speak things under the surface.’ - Arji Manuelpillai, Out-Spoken (Books of the Year 2020)

Love Minus Love radiates an austere, sculptural beauty. This playful creativity forms an exquisite counterpoint to the poems’ pain and the collection pulses with honest immediacy.’ – John Field, reviewing the T S Eliot shortlist 2020 for the T S Eliot Prize

'…it’s so intimate and direct: the story of growing up with a single mother, abuse, poverty and bereavement, told with wit and kindness and’s hard, these distracted days, to find something so focused and intent, such an entirely immersive read.'  - Kate Clanchy, New Statesman [on Love Minus Love]

Love Minus Love is perhaps best understood as a collective, albeit fragmented, verbalisation of this tormented poet’s psyche, with many of its poems reading as snippets overheard from a story already-in-the telling… A heartfelt putting of pen to paper, it is best defined by a single, summative word: bravery. – Daniel Baksi, The Arts Desk

‘Under the microscope of poetry, Holloway-Smith objectifies a personal story until it becomes some strange, unknown thing, rushed towards in a tumult of language. Perhaps Holloway-Smith’s biggest accomplishment here is in successfully convincing the reader that his introspective subject matter—incorporating identity, masculinity and family turmoil—can be best expressed in this explosive, singular poetic style.’ – Ben Ray, Oxford Review of Books on Love Minus Love

'The Wiltshire-born poet’s primary concerns – masculinity, abuse, disease – are threaded with wit and a disinterest in sentimentality. He is as playful with form as he is honest with language: in one poem, “the pain of childhood” is literally crossed out on the page, its letters welded together, no spaces between the words. But look closely and you’ll find the grief, hidden in plain sight.' - New Statesman, NS Recommends, on Love Minus Love

Love Minus Love is one long sequence, the primary formal effect of which is a kind of layered time in which multiple things are happening at once, a looping track of intrusive thoughts full of recurring meanwhiles and elsewheres and temporal imprecision… Within this narrative unravelling, individual lyric moments are distilled, revealing themselves just as linear biography collapses into itself: here the terrain of memory and experience is mapped out precisely by the speaker’s desire to erase it.’ - Helen Charman, SPAMzine

‘Wayne Holloway-Smith’s Love Minus Love… reckons with loss and the limits of contemporary masculinity. The collection is a long, fragmented sequence that loops across timelines and distorts expectations of trauma, family, grief, pain, love… With its distinctly uncanny, elastic logic, it suggests that feelings are not whole or quantifiable, and asks what remains when you subtract love from itself – and what expressions of feeling, what conceptions of the self, can be grasped from within this blurred, airless space.’ – Joanna Lee, The Poetry Review

'Such inventive, memorable and sardonic phrase making fills Wayne Holloway-Smith's second collection Love Minus Love. A startling and unconventional experiment rooted in childhood, place, masculinity and the environment, Holloway-Smith bridges seemingly disparate subjects to create a coherent and tender experience… In a sequence of untitled poems, often appearing as protracted, imagistic meditations shifting from a son's relationship to his parents, to the illogical constructs of gender binaries, Holloway-Smith compels the reader into an alarming vision of consequences. The interplay between past and present, between platonic friendship and intimacy, and how the male body has been usurped to act as a nefarious emblem of strength and resilience, all align to challenge and subvert sociosymbolic preconceptions.' - Anthony Anaxagorou, PBS Bulletin

Love Minus Love is the second collection from Wayne Holloway-Smith. It reads as a continuous, fractured train of thought exploring the poet’s childhood trauma, his relationship with his dad, his mum and mental illness… Holloway-Smith’s poetry is fragmentary, brutal, surreal and often heart-breaking.’ – Mareth Burns, DURA

‘Disease, trauma, wit, sex, love, addiction, looping time, family history, a changing world, work—all evaporate and condense into the best collection I’ve read in 2020… Shortlisted for the 2020 T.S Eliot Prize, Love Minus Love could win, should win, might win, better win—who knows with such things… In my humble 2020 ranking, Holloway-Smith takes top slot.’ – D M O’Connor, RHINO

'I rejoice in Wayne Holloway-Smith's poems, and I miss them when I'm not reading them. Love Minus Love is a gorgeous painful classic of the Dead Dad genre, and the We Are All Meat genre and the Re-Building Mum genre. It is a beautiful tapestry-album of boy agony, wit and honesty, punctuated by devastating in-parentheses-bildungsromans. It's unforgettably brilliant.' – Max Porter

'Exciting, excoriating, gorgeous, appalling, and eye-wateringly honest. Wayne Holloway-Smith's poems are blisteringly beautiful, and probe at a siege-like nucleus of familial harm. Histories of abuse, hurt and disease are confronted and dissected in all their messy, meaty complexity, but always with love, always with hope and a sweet, sweet tenderness. One of the truest poets writing today.' – Fiona Benson