Andrew McMillan online book launch with Malika Booker

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Poet Andrew McMillan. Photo by Ursula Soltys.

Andrew McMillan 'pandemonium' book launch, online, 26 May 2021, free entry - Visit now

Andrew McMillan’s third collection, pandemonium, is out with Jonathan Cape on 20 May, and this online event will see him reading from it and having an in-depth chat about it with his colleague in the Manchester Writing School, Forward Prize-winning Malika Booker. Co-hosted by Manchester Poetry Library, the book launch will also feature an introduction by the brand-new venue’s director, Becky Swain, along with an audience Q&A.

Less about physical union and completeness, and more about fracture and distance, the collection has already been named one of the picks of the year in the Guardian.

Andrew McMillan’s debut, physical (Cape, 2015), was the first poetry collection to win the Guardian First Book Award and it went on to win many other prizes (the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, a Somerset Maugham Award, an Eric Gregory Award and a Northern Writers’ Award) and was voted one of the top 25 poetry books of the past 25 years by the Booksellers Association.

His second collection, playtime (Cape, 2018), won the inaugural Polari Prize and was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for autumn 2018, a Poetry Book of the Month in both The Observer and The Telegraph, and a Poetry Book of the Year in The Sunday Times. Alan Bennett called it “vivid, accessible and honest, sometimes uncomfortably so” in the London Review of Books, while The Times said: “playtime’s meat and drink is the candid memoir poem, told with courage, invention and charm.”

While both these collections examined the intimacies and intricacies of the physical body, offering up unflinchingly frank depictions of the body and sexual love, the new book marks a change of tack from the senior lecturer in creative writing at the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University, looking inward, into the difficult world of mental health, and also outwards into the natural and political world.

Addressing a period of acute depression, the new poems have been described as “raw dispatches from a mind in freefall, a body in trouble” and “tender, savagely moving poems which stare, unblinkingly, into the sudden havoc and hurt of this world, searching for – and finally finding – some redemption”. Less about physical union and completeness, and more about fracture and distance, the collection has already been named one of the picks of the year in the Guardian, Financial Times and Irish Times Culture.

The publisher elaborates: “Keeping his trademark breath-space and lower-case lines, but more formally experimental, incorporating sequences and sonnets, the poems in pandemonium explore the fragility and depth of the human mind – in its panic and its troubled retreat – and map this turmoil onto the chaos and abundance of the garden. Depression is mirrored in the invasive, seemingly untreatable knotweed that slowly suffocates the garden, while the sky conspires in its sudden, terrifying clarity, ‘as though the root of the world were ripped clean off’.”

Andrew will be discussing the new themes and approaches to his work with Malika Booker, who won last year’s Forward Prize for Best Single Poem for ‘The Little Miracles’. Theatre-maker, multi-disciplinary artist and co-founder (with Roger Robinson) of international writing collective Malika’s Poetry Kitchen, Malika’s first collection of poetry, Pepper Seed, was published by Peepal Tree Press in 2013 and in 2019 she was awarded a prestigious Society of Authors Cholmondley Award for her contribution to poetry. The same year, she joined Manchester Metropolitan University as a lecturer in creative writing and she is chair of judges for the prestigious international Manchester Poetry Prize.

Andrew McMillan pandemonium cover
Andrew McMillan pandemonium cover


This online event is free to attend, but sign up via the Eventbrite link.

Andrew McMillan 'pandemonium' book launch, online

26 May 2021 8:00 pm
Free entry