Lowland is a moving collection in three parts that begins and ends in the visually arresting lowlands of Holland. The language is as pared down and stark as the landscape, but emotion bristles between the lines. Beginning in childhood, we feel for the awkward boy imagining himself as James Bond, whose strength, in reality, only stretches so far as having ‘a quip ready for Gary Murray / as he pasted my face into the playground wall’ (Bond). Later, a book of Roman and Greek myth shows the young poet how ‘those kings / packed their daughters’ suitors off / to slaughter’, foreshadowing events to come. As love blossoms, loss and breakdown loom: ‘Just the dark of a storm, this swarm of black wings / over the standing corn; / and that dirt track though / its centre, leading nowhere.’ (Ravens over cornfields). Finally there is reprise: lyrical, wistful, mature, a sense of life’s canvas being ‘both scattered / and as one’.
Will Kemp studied at Cambridge and UEA before working in Canada, Holland and New Zealand. In 2006 he was runner-up in the Keats-Shelley Prize; in 2010 he won the Envoi International Poetry Prize. He has had over 100 poems published, and has been shortlisted in various national competitions, including the Poetry Society’s Stanza in 2011. His first collection, Nocturnes, was published by Cinnamon in 2012 (ISBN 9781907090554). He now lives in North Yorkshire.