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Paul Farley won the Arvon Poetry Competition Competition in 1996. His first poetry collection, The Boy From the Chemist is Here to See You (1998), won the Forward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection and a Somerset Maugham Award, and was shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Award. He was named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year (1999). He received an Arts Council Writers’ Award in 2000. The Ice Age (2002) won the 2003 Whitbread Poetry Award and was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. In addition to being shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize, Paul Farley’s Tramp in Flames won the 2006 Forward Prize for Best Individual Poem for ‘Liverpool Disappears for a Billionth of a Second’. Paul Farley currently lectures in Creative Writing at the University of Lancaster. He lives in England.

Tramp in Flames

Picador Poetry
2007 Shortlist
United Kingdom

Judges’ Citation

Paul Farley is a poet of wit, sensuality and warmth.

Paul Farley is a poet of wit, sensuality and warmth. His work engages with the commonplace and the overlooked, the absurd and the catastrophic, the scientific and the mythic, in ways that make us stop and think again about what it is to be living in this particular world, at this particular moment in our history. Though he wears his learning lightly, Farley draws upon philosophy and natural science, as well as a deep, occasionally elegiac affection for the streets and fields and hillsides of the places he has called home, to create a poetry of exceptional formal skill. What makes his work so remarkable is that, whatever his subject matter, from the city of Liverpool to an old Ovaltine tin, everything is transformed by his imagination and his formal gifts, making us think again about what we know, and what we think we know. That said, however, what comes across most vividly here is the sheer music of the writing: every line sings off the page, and there can be few poets whose work is so memorable. If the best poetry aspires to the condition of music, as Mallarmé suggests, then this is poetry of the highest order: melodic, humane and intellectually engaging, Tramp in Flames renews our contract with the given world, yet challenges us to think again about what we see, and what we take for granted.