Physical: Cape Poetry (Paperback)
I first heard about this book in a Guardian Books podcast and found it fascinating that Physical is the first book of poetry ever to win the Guardian First Book Prize. I didn't know much about it when I ordered it, but I immediately fell in love. McMillan captures so much of what is uniquely human in his poems, centering on the body and how it reacts when outside forces press down on it.
I had forgotten that loving could feel so calming
telling you that your body was beautiful sighing out
the brittle disappointments from the bones
having no judgement of what the body
may want to be doing where the breath may fall
-- Cody— From Cody M. Staff Picks
An extraordinary debut from a 26-year-old poet.
Raw and urgent, these poems are hymns to the male body -- to male friendship and male love -- muscular, sometimes shocking, but always deeply moving. We are witness here to an almost religious celebration of the flesh: a flesh vital with the vulnerability of love and loss, to desire and its departure. In an extraordinary blend of McMillan's own colloquial Yorkshire rhythms with a sinewy, Metaphysical music and Thom Gunn's torque and speed -- 'your kiss was deep enough to stand in' -- the poems in this first collection confront what it is to be a man and interrogate the very idea of masculinity. This is poetry where every instance of human connection, from the casual encounter to the intimate relationship, becomes redeemable and revelatory. There is, at the end of everything, a sense of hope.
Dispensing with conventional punctuation, the poet is attentive and alert to the quality of breathing, giving the work an extraordinary sense of being vividly poised and present -- drawing lines that are deft, lyrical and perfectly pitched from a world of urban dereliction. An elegant stylist and unfashionably honest poet, McMillan believes that 'writing something down/keeps it alive', and his eye and ear are tuned, exactly, to both the mechanics of the body and the miracles of the heart.
About the Author
ANDREW McMILLAN was born in South Yorkshire in 1988 and lectures in Creative Writing at Liverpool John Moores University. In 2014 he won a substantial Northern Writers Award. He currently lives in Manchester.