Drysalter was largely enjoyed by the group. Everyone found poems they described as deeply satisfying, even ‘breathtaking’. Symmons Roberts’ language, style and ideas were all praised, and jealousy was mentioned in reference to his final lines – surely the highest form of flattery from poets.
We felt the structure of 150 poems of 15 lines was successful and allowed enough variation in terms of form to hold our interest, although some admitted to initially finding the sheer volume overwhelming. Inevitably in a collection of this length it was felt some poems did not earn their place. A Christian theme is clearly referenced; some found this was too heavily plundered, others enjoyed its metaphysical exploration. Roberts adds interest with sequences of poems that he scatters through the book, for example a life of a psalmist that appears in chronologically reverse order and a themes of booths (including a photo booth and a hurricane booth). Overall we felt it to be a remarkable achievement and could see how it earned a place on three major award shortlists and walked away with two of them.


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