After the Formalities (Paperback)Anthony Anaxagorou (author)
Twitching with kinetic power and latent violence, this incendiary collection puts modern Britain under microscope and finds a fragmented, dangerous place. Marrying intense lyricism to a variety of uncompromising themes and subjects, After the Formalities burns with a vicious grace.
Shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize 2019
A knife is pulled. An Uber driver is racially abused on the day of the Brexit referendum. A father bathes his son in ice water. A schoolboy drives a drawing pin into a map of the world.The threat of violence is never far away in Anthony Anaxagorou's breakthrough collection After the Formalities. Technically achieved, emotionally transformative and razor-sharp, these are poems that confront and contradict; poems in which the scholarly synthesises with the streetwise, and global histories are told through the lens of one family.
Anaxagorou 'speaks against the darkness', tracking the male body under pressure from political and historical forces, and celebrates the precarious joy of parenthood. The title poem is a meditation on racism and race science that draws on the poet's Cypriot heritage and is as uncomfortable as it is virtuosic. Elsewhere, in a sequence of prose poems that shimmer with lyric grace, he writes, 'I'm your father & the only person keeping you alive.'
Publisher: Penned in the Margins
EndorsementsA burning rage with a delicate taste, Anthony’s words are a puzzle for the mind, a wrench for the heart and a massage for the soul. After the Formalities sees a poet at the peak of his powers, playing with form and style, tone and content, while maintaining a unique voice through a characteristic mix of historical scholarship, and caustic wit.- AkalaAfter the Formalities is a supreme collection. Anaxagorou’s lyrics, mapped over expansive interior and historical landscapes, feels to me as wise and weathered, and it feels to be bringing something totally new to my ear. Solid. The Self and The West catch the hardest blows, but Anaxagorou’ s throws hands critical, bloodied, and tender all so skilfully in this collection you can’t help but come out feeling rocked too. The ghosts that haunt this collection have bless it and we are blessed for it.- Danez Smith There’s a fresh type of originality in After The Formalities; a book funded by a quiet, yet fierce knowing, that weighs its startling imagery and intuitive language with a depth of risk and vulnerability. Anaxagorou's vocabulary is one which pushes back, moving between socio-symbolic spaces and evolving an empathy and generosity that wasn’t there before, and for this I love him.- Wayne Holloway-SmithAfter the Formalities doesn’t just radically redefine what it means to write about the self in poetry, it forges a space for a brand-new kind of poetics on the subject. Anaxagorou’s philosophic utilization of multiple poetic modes gifts the poems their mastery, and his view on the world and ideas – unsettled, nebulous, nuanced and ambivalent – means these masterful poems can then critique the very form within which they sit, both co-opting and critiquing structures in poetry and the world that subjugate. Formal, experimental, dextrous, aural, democratic, radical; what Anaxagorou does in this collection breaches paraphrase. Mining personal and public history, the importance of this book – for poetry and for how we talk about and know society – cannot be overstated. These poems work as poems should: enacting deep thought towards philosophies, and they make me hopeful.- Rachael Allen
There’s a fresh type of originality in After the Formalities; a book funded by a quiet, yet fierce knowing, that weighs its startling imagery and intuitive language with a depth of risk and vulnerability.Wayne Holloway-Smith
Anthony Anaxagorou's After the Formalities is a novel response to anxieties surrounding the growth of the immigrant-descended population, informed by his British and Cypriot heritage. [...] The poet speaks out "against darkness" to a divided nation and seeks the solace of home, whether assigned or adopted.Jade Cuttle, The Guardian - Jade Cuttle, The Guardian
A manifesto for a complete, multifaceted masculinity ... makes After the Formalities essential reading for our times.Katie Mennis, The London Magazine - The London Magazine
Anaxagorou's] crystalline language, brevity, use of space, gaps and silence all commit themselves to accounting for loss, or the "violence in forgetting".Sandeep Parmar, The Guardian - The Guardian
Anaxagorou probes the themes of masculinity, fatherhood and ethnicity, confronting them head-on ... There are also subtle and tender moments between the poet and his son, where curiosity and vulnerability are celebrated.Zakia Carpenter-Hall, Poetry London - Poetry London
At once personally redemptive and historically acute [...] Anaxagorou's poems are at their most powerful when they slip into this kind of rapid rattle, the verbs fronted and the clauses lopped of their subjects. The narrative, rather than losing pace with the lanugage, is turned, chewed, stung.Will Harris, The Poetry Review - The Poetry Review
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