2017 Announcing Intl. Poet 4


Denise Riley is a critically acclaimed writer of both philosophy and poetry. She is currently Professor of the History of Ideas and of Poetry at the University of East Anglia, and has taught and researched widely at many institutions in Europe and America.

Judges’ Citation

“The beauty of Denise Riley’s book lies in its rejection of the kind of beauty that is ready to hand. In it we meet a mind that scrupulously rejects the grandiose gesture but is not averse to play and tenderness. Or indeed to tragedy. The longest poem in the book, ‘A Part Song’ is about the loss of the poet’s son. In it she addresses poetry itself and questions its ability to give appropriate form to such loss. But what might appear to be the bare cupboard of grief is, in her poem, packed with voices, entrances and movements that doubt their own validity and are, marvellously, all the more valid for that. Beyond the loss there remains the close, firmly disciplined observation of the world, of the humour and pathos at its edges, and the lifelong attempt to allow it its own voice, the willingness, as the book’s title has it, to ‘say something back’. Riley’s work has always been substantial but this book is something very special, a full blossoming and gathering.”


Say Something Back will allow readers to see just why the name of Denise Riley has been held in such high regard by her fellow poets for so long. The book reproduces A Part Song, a profoundly moving document of grieving and loss, and one of the most widely admired long poems of recent years. Elsewhere Riley’s poetry becomes a space for contemplation of the natural world, of physical law, and for the deep consideration of what it is to invoke those who are absent. Finally, it extends our sense of what the act of human speech can be, and especially what is drawn forth from us when we address our dead. Lyric, intimate, acidly witty, unflinchingly brave, Say Something Back is destined to introduce one of our finest poets to a wide new readership.

Note: Summaries are taken from promotional materials supplied by the publisher, unless otherwise noted.

More about Denise Riley

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