Selected Poems


This Selected Poems offers the perfect introduction to a distinguished body of work that has established Lavinia Greenlaw as one of the most perceptive and original poets of her generation.

From her arresting debut, Night Photograph (1993), through five further collections, the poems reflect a lifelong preoccupation with perception: how we describe what we see or envisage what we can’t see, and how we locate ourselves in place and time and in relation to one another. The selection also documents a poet moving through life from young love and early parenthood to the years of uncertainty, endurance, reflection and loss. The book comes to rest on The Built Moment (2019) with its heart-breaking sequence about her father’s dementia and what it means to disappear into the present tense. Yet even here we are shown that among the broken and the fragmented, the provisional and the changeable, there is always something left from which to build.

The poems have been chosen by the author herself and are accompanied by an illuminating series of notes: observations and provocations aimed at encouraging writers and readers towards a deeper understanding of the nature and practice of poetry.

‘. . . the sensuousness of her thought and her ability to move between the abstract and the precisely observed remain as potent as ever.’ William Wotton, Guardian

‘. . . a poet who is pushing for a style that is taut, elliptical and which is uncompromising in its desire to forge a voice that is curious and open to change, however disorienting, painful and delightful such transitions might be.’ Deryn Rees-Jones, Independent

‘Everything Greenlaw touches glitters and resonates, her discipline and skill allowing her to be serious, soulful, knockabout, funny and downright strange in the course of a few lines.’ Glyn Maxwell, Vogue