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Corpus (2004) is the most recently published book of poetry from Michael Symmons Roberts. He has authored three previous published books of poetry: Soft Keys (1993), Raising Sparks (1999) and Burning Babylon (2001). Corpus was shortlisted for the 2004 Forward Prize for Best Collection and the 2004 T.S. Eliot Prize, and has already won the 2004 Whitbread Poetry Award; this is his first entry onto the shortlist for the Griffin Poetry Prize. Born in Preston Lancashire in 1963, Roberts is also an award-winning radio writer, a documentary filmmaker for the BBC, and a frequent collaborator with the composer James MacMillan.

Corpus

Penguin Random House/Jonathan Cape
2005 Shortlist
United Kingdom

Judges’ Citation

There is a patient, almost forensic methodology in the poems of Michael Symmons Roberts, a systematic building up or stripping away of layers, until the subject and the sense of each poem is either established or exposed.

There is a patient, almost forensic methodology in the poems of Michael Symmons Roberts, a systematic building up or stripping away of layers, until the subject and the sense of each poem is either established or exposed. This collection, Corpus, is almost a poetic autopsy, an investigation of the body, sometimes for signs of life and sometimes for what might loosely be called the human spirit. But if this is poetry in the religious tradition, there is nothing mystical or superstitious about Corpus. Just to dare to consider such a concept as the soul, the poet must explore wildly differing aspects of human behaviour, from gross acts of torture to moments of ecstatic love; with a photographic accuracy and frame by frame, almost documentary observations, his eye is unflinching. Knowing but never sagacious, confident but never preachy or dogmatic, this is Symmons Roberts at his most readable, most lyrical best.