About Paul Farley
Paul Farley (b.1965) began winning awards with Poetry Review’s Geoffrey Dearmer Prize, took the Forward Prize for Best First Collection with The Boy from the Chemist is Here to See You, and won the Whitbread Poetry Prize for his second, The Ice Age, which was also a Poetry Book Society Choice. He has been a teacher of creative writing, Poet in Residence at Dove Cottage, Wordsworth’s home, and was chosen as a Next Generation Poet in 2004.
He has described poetry as “a long word which can be stretched”. The sense of humour is easily seen in his work, and often evident in his wry introductions, as recorded here; the attention to the almost-physical sense of a word comes out in his strong use of rhyme and form. In addition to the powerful leavetaking of the everyday that builds in ‘A Minute’s Silence’, the poem gains from being shaped in an elegiac metre familiar since Thomas Gray’s classic, which Farley, rightly, draws attention to. It is possible that his formal interest is a kind of attention to materials, as he has also studied at the Chelsea School of Art, and – completing a satisfying circle – has been an art reviewer for Poetry Review.
His reading style skilfully allows these formal features to resonate, without distracting from the content, and does so in a voice that still acknowledges his native Liverpool. Parts of his home city – Speke Airport, bus termini, chip shops – figure in the poems, but mingle easily with Papal visits, dentistry and students suffering from scurvy. In ‘Treacle’, he takes a subject as grounded, as real, as a tin of treacle, and brings us through numinous details to both a sense of our place in history, and of stickiness. These are poems that try “to get around the back of these Big Safe Themes, to creep up on them”, and the mundane nature of phone books and railway tunnels is a surprising and successful point from which to start that process.
Paul Farley’s Favourite Poetry Saying:
“Poetry is a long word which can be stretched” – Paul Farley
His recording was made on 25 January 2001 at The Audio Workshop, London and was produced by Richard Carrington.
Poems by Paul Farley
Books by Paul Farley
Edgelands: Journeys into England's True Wilderness (with Michael Symmons Roberts)
Jonathan Cape, 2011
Observer / Arvon International Poetry CompetitionPrize website
Geoffrey Dearmer AwardPrize website
Forward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection, The Boy from the Chemist is Here to See YouPrize website
Somerset Maugham AwardPrize website
Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award
Arts Council Writer's AwardPrize website
Whitbread Poetry Award, The Ice AgePrize website
Forward Poetry Prize for Best Single Poem, "Liverpool Disappears for a Billionth of a Second"Prize website
Griffin International Poetry Prize, shortlist, Tramp in FlamesPrize website
Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award for Non-Fiction, EdgelandsPrize website
E. M. Forster Award (American Academy of Arts & Letters)Prize website
Travelling Scholarship of the Society of AuthorsPrize website
Foyles Best Book of Ideas, Edgelands
Fellow of the Royal Society of LiteraturePrize website
Cholmondeley Award of the Society of AuthorsPrize website
T. S. Eliot Prize, shortlist, The MizzyPrize website
Costa Poetry Award, shortlist, The MizzyPrize website