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on 1 October 2011
I have an affinity with Paul Farley's work as, like me, he went through art college, and his poetry is very visual. He is also four years younger than me, and many of his poems share frames of reference with my generation. In my opinion, this debut collection contains a number of Paul's best poems: Laws of Gravity, Electricity, Treacle, Monopoly, to name just a few. 'Laws of Gravity' deserves an essay of its own, and it is a truly beautiful piece of work. A homage to his father who was a window cleaner. A poem that conveys love and respect, and shows exactly how we still look for our loved ones after they have gone.

He also delights in the sound of words, the poem 'Treacle' illustrates this nicely. And that poem shows his talent as a poet, in his ability to take us from a simple tin of treacle to: history, the empire, bygone times. His writing style in this book, from full iambic meter to free verse (underpinned with iambic meter) is rewarding to read; and his language is rich and imaginative. His sense of audience and the reader is refreshing and well considered. If you enjoy reading poetry, you will find yourself dipping into this book time and time again.
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on 13 March 2008
Having discovered Farley's poem 'The boy from the chemist is here to see you' on the internet I decided to buy his acclaimed debut so that I could have it in print, I was astounded to find that the anthology does not contain the poem ......... no more to add really.
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on 9 October 2001
I was astonished by this debut collection. We expect fledgling poets to pull out all the stops and attempt to dazzle us with their first books, but there's a critical mass of originality in these pages that makes more established poets look lazy and unimaginative. Moreover, and more importantly, there's maturity, an emotional gravitas that sees us through his wildest flights of imagination. Read "Laws of Gravity" or "A Minute's Silence" for examples of poetry using all the resources of heart and intelligence. As a poet I find Farley's talent at once liberating and intimidating. As a reader I'm inexpressibly grateful for such a richly entertaining volume.
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on 3 November 2015
Irreverent, accessible, funny, dramatic, surreal and concrete poetry of the first-order
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on 7 December 2001
Farley's first collection has rightly garnered critical rave reviews but it remains that rare thing in poetry circles these days - fashionable amongst the literati while packing a powerful punch for the rest of us. Farley, who was originally an artist, has an other-worldly take on life and matches it with a precision of language and form that is breathtaking. Having been honoured to meet the man in the flesh, I can only say that in real life he is every bit as captivating as a fan could hope him to be. Hearing him read "Not Fade Away" in his wonderful Liverpuddlian lilt will stay in my mind for a long time. Liverpool is important to his make-up - he has that caustic wit associated with the likes of John Lennon - but others have seen this as an excuse to badge him as an update on the Henri/Patten/McGough Mersey Sound, which is a mistake. While I am a great fan of them, Farley is technically far more accomplished and has much more to say.
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on 27 June 2001
there are several collections of contemporary poetry that should be sent out in capsules to the universe to show how amazing the human imagination can be, and this is one of them. Non poetry readers might find Farley a touch difficult at first, mainly because his angle of approach is characteristically unusual, and he's not keen to give it all away - the reader is asked to do a bit of imagining as well. But he's by no means obscure. Once you tune into his way of seeing things, the book can be read at one sitting, and unusually for any book of poetry, gets very difficult to put down.
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on 4 March 2016
Great all round
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on 28 September 2001
Buy this book and you'll get most of what you'd usually expect from a certain breed of mainstream British poetry of the 90s: a handful of slickly turned out competition winners, a knowing tone generally assured of its fix on the current urban, cool zeitgeist, technical virtues safely overshadowing content or emotional reach or depth. With the exception of two showstoppers - The Laws of Gravity and A Minute's Silence - there's a rather yuppyish individualism and severity to it all, as if Farley, though convinced of his own ambition and imaginative talents, has nothing to apply them to but the lifestyle he has chosen for himself, and a vague mythologizing or glamourising of it for the discerning few who are on the same trip. Yes, there's a great deal to admire here, but I can't get beyond an unease with its egocentricity, or that often the tone or premiss of a poem feels oddly prescriptive, despite the obvious efforts made to avoid the kind of 'leftish' social or political commitments of less post-ideological times.
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