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The Blood Choir

The Blood Choir

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Shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize 2006

Tim Liardet's masterly new collection, The Blood Choir, will surprise readers with its dramatic subject matter: teaching poetry in prison. An acutely observed incident is recalled and given a multitude of perspectives, each perspective resounding with an emotional corollary – sometimes fear, often sympathy. The vision is dark, but not without humour. There is a playful inventiveness and an adroit irony, often at the author's expense. As well as the work inspired by the prison there are digressions: several pieces stem from the foot and mouth outbreak.

"These scrupulous poems treat the fearful world of prison meticulously, humanely, with rare tact"
David Constantine

"Liardet leads us to a poetic mode of visionary simplicity... that sense of ecstatic humility perfected by George Herbert..."
The Times Literary Supplement

"Liardet brings a weighty tone of voice... making something new and strange" Independent on Sunday

"One of the year's most impressive collections, an extended and carefully crafted reflection by a poet who spent a year teaching in a jail on the way prison dehumanises, but also releases strange kinds of ingenuity. In Goya-esque imagery Liardet shows prisoners wasting talent and time shackled into a single organism."
Financial Times, December 2006

"The Blood Choir is a work of extraordinary perception and honesty, unsparing with the harsh detail of how the prisoners adjusted to institutional life... Judges, lawyers and guards, whose shadows figure only faintly in this world, could learn much from Liardet's powerful account. And nobody who believes that poetry could occasionally address brutal realities should miss it"
Alan Brownjohn, The Sunday Times, November 2006

"Liardet's decision to create the sense of incarceration not through a focus on barriers but through an attenuated vision of liberty is particularly effective... The central achievement of this rare and powerful volume is to show us that even in the heart of prison there is the scope for freedom."
Sarah Crown, The Guardian, October 2006

"This is certainly Liardet's best book to date. It is what poetry is for: to register life, to turn it back into life through language"
George Szirtes, Poetry Review, October 2006

Tim Liardet was born in London. He is Senior Lecturer in English and Creative Studies at Bath Spa University. He has produced four collections of poetry with Seren. His third collection, Competing with the Piano Tuner, was a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation and longlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Prize in 1998, and his fourth, To the God of Rain, was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for Spring 2003. The prison poems contained in The Blood Choir won the Smith Doorstop Competition and received an Arts Council England Writers’ Award, both in 2003.