Flying School

Robert Saxton


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Shearsman Books
22 March 2019
ISBN: 9781848616424
118 pages

From the publisher

Flying School is a book of beautifully crafted poems about the contrivances by which we attempt to enrich or repair our lives. One dominant image is flight and, more specifically, parachutes - reflecting an aspiration to come to terms with our hardest challenges, including the reality of death. The book ends with a series of heartbreaking elegies for the poet's father, unflinching in their grief-stricken gaze. Poems about Paul Nash and Stanley Spencer musing on their art and subversive pastorals on our loss of biodiversity extend Saxton's focus into new areas. ere are dramatic monologues too - a returning cosmonaut disappointed not to be more generously treated; a Polynesian ambassador in Venice in the time of Casanova; a young man who falls for a girl in the American 'Neverglades' and serves with her brother in Viet Nam. Themes include love savoured, compromised or lost; identity, being and nothingness; and faith versus unbelief. In this dazzlingly various collection, plain-spoken storytelling is set against more oblique or lyrical voices, while sonnets, sestinas, villanelles and 'triplets' (juxtaposing conventional and consonantal rhyme) offer the pleasures of accomplished form. The common factor is a vividly observed aliveness, often inflected with wit. Saxton has conjured a teeming world of phenomena, ideas and emotions that never fails to surprise, as well as entertain or move.