British poet Valerie Morton takes a close look at The Knowledge in a guest review on the website of Canadian poet E.E. Nobbs. How fittingly trans-Atlantic is that?
She calls the book, “strange”, “quirky”, and “honest”, and remarks, “What impresses me greatly is the author’s humanity, which I found very moving.”
Morton draws out themes of loss and culture shock in the first section of the book. Reflecting on the “difficult” middle section, she concludes, “the fact that America has been at war for most of its existence makes this section particularly enlightening.” About the London poems, she praises “such watchfulness and perception that I felt … invited to look at the city of my birth through new eyes.”
Finally, as a fellow poet, she seems to have a favourite:
Every poem in this unique collection is worth a special mention, but I cannot leave the book without showcasing one that holds particular significance for all poets — ‘Nocturne with Writer’s Block’ — where Robert Peake explores the two ‘selves’ of a poet with surprising honesty and produces an extraordinary piece of work on the secret life of writer’s block.
Finally, she praises the “beautifully produced and bound” object that is the book itself, concluding that, “It seems to tell you to be ready for anything and everything — a new kind of knowledge — dip your own eyes in and you will not be disappointed.”
You can read the full review on the website of E.E. Nobbs.
“I saw something nasty in the wood shed.”
-Aunt Ada, “Cold Comfort Farm”
There’s nothing nasty in Abegail Morley’s Poetry Shed. I know becaus she recently invited me in for an interview.
We talked about the editorial process leading up to publication of The Knowledge, how the editor Jane and I worked together, and what it was like to finally see the finished product. The publication process can be a bit of a mystery to some, so thanks to Abegail for asking about this side of things and shedding some light on what was involved in bringing this book into the world.
You can read the full interview at The Poetry Shed.
D A Prince takes firm hold of The Knowledge, examining constituent parts and unifying threads, in a new review for London Grip.
She calls it “complex”, full of “subtle questioning”, which is what she likes best. She also praises the new format of the Nine Arches book itself, concluding, “Peake is lucky with his publisher — and they are lucky to have him on their list.” I do feel lucky indeed.
You can read the full review on London Grip.
Whereas Prince found the middle section least in tune with the rest, Geoff Sawers hacks away at the final section of the book in a brief write-up for Shearsman Review. He tempers his dislike of the London poems with the idea that, “Poetry is not about averages; it’s more like the High Jump, where your best one counts.” “Last Gasp”, for him, is that one that counts, and “soars”.
As reviews and comments roll in, both in public and private, it would seem that I have written a book that is one part a kind of poetry anthology penned by my multiple selves, one part Rorschach test for its readership. Some days it feels like everyone’s an editor (and they don’t always agree), yet on a more positive note, it would seem that there is truly something for everyone in this book.
What do you think? If you’ve been provoked by The Knowledge, I’d love to read your thoughts in a user review on Goodreads or Amazon.
“A short poem need not be small.”
On the plane from London to New York, I took in three stunning debuts: Mona Arshi’s sensual, wistful, and surreal poetry; Sarah Fletcher’s imaginative, accomplished, and wry personae; Anja König’s incisive, keenly observed notes on loss — and wrote brief reviews of each for HuffPost Books.
You can read the full reviews here.
Matthew Stewart of the Rogue Strands blog tussles with The Knowledge in a new review on his website, and comes away invigorated from the struggle.
He takes firm hold of two key threads in the collection — loss of innocence, and relating to London as an outsider — through deft commentary and concrete example. He calls the work “ambitious” and “cunning” and decides “one of Peake’s stand-out qualities is his ability to bring his poems to an arresting close”. Most encouragingly, he upholds that despite being written by an outsider/in-betweener, “British readers are rewarded with a view of London that encourages reassessment.”
You can read the full review on the Rogue Strands website.
On Friday, I attended a small private London launch for the second edition of a book by my friend and former boss, David Allen. His methodology has been the key to creating the space in my life for poetry amidst a dynamic career in technology and management consulting, and a generally full trans-Atlantic life.
Having sold more than two million copies of his Getting Things Done book in nearly 30 languages, I jokingly asked over lunch for any tips on avoiding hand cramp when signing great numbers of books at once. Pre-orders for my debut full-length poetry collection The Knowledge have, after all, been rolling in.
That afternoon, I got the good news that books had arrived from the printer, and whizzed up to meet my publisher Jane in Milton Keynes, the preferred halfway point between where we both live. Despite the appearance of Milton in the name, I find Milton Keynes to be one of the least poetic cities in Britain — essentially England’s answer to Orange County. And so it was in a coffee chain store inside a glass-and-steel mall that I first laid hands on this beautiful book.
What can I say? It is a lovely object. Small but important details that I couldn’t have gleaned from the PDF galley — like the way in which facing-page poems interrelate thanks to expert pagination — surprised and impressed me. The entire experience of working with Jane has had a ring of rightness about it, and the finished product feels good in so many way, including tactilely — from the French flaps to the sturdy off-white pages to the matte-finish cover.
I am looking forward to my launch tour next week — Wenlock, Cheltenham, then New York. What a pleasure it will be to read from this lovingly-produced new book.
If you would like to hold a copy in your own hands, you can order it here.