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IN MEMORY OF OWEN LOWERY

Posted on October 29 2021

This week, Carcanet Press published Crash Wake and other poems, the posthumous final collection of Owen Lowery and our PBS Winter Wild Card Choice. In February 2020, ventilated tetraplegic poet Owen Lowery and his wife, Jayne, suffered a terrible car crash. Having barely survived, Lowery emerged into a world transformed by the coronavirus, one in which life and death had moved closer. During his months of recovery, Lowery wrote poems which address the strangeness, the disorientation, of his situation and that of the world in general. "Crash Wake" adopts a twelve-line form, which was as long as he could manage, due to his head injury. The form also allowed him to take what Keith Douglas called 'extrospective' snapshots of the new environment in which he found himself. He wrote amidst reports of Government and health initiatives that suggested potential utilitarian sacrifices of "the vulnerable". Completed shortly before his death in May 2021, the fear and loss of the vulnerable and the voiceless haunt many of the poems. Recovery, nature and love fill the gaps in this changed world. Lowery's final book appreciates afresh landscape and wildlife, family and marriage, the importance and fragility of life.

Owen Lowery was born in 1968. A British Judo Champion, he suffered a spinal injury which left him tetraplegic. He gained a BA from the Open University, an MA in Military History from the University of Chester, and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Bolton. He completed a PhD joining his own experience of living under perpetual threat of death to the World War II poet Keith Douglas. His poetry appeared in Stand and PN Review and was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, the Welsh Open Poetry Competition, the Virginia Warbey Prize, and the International Sonnet Competition. His first Carcanet/Northern House book was Otherwise Unchanged, followed by Rego Retold, inspired by the artist Paula Rego. He read at many venues round the UK and the BBC produced a TV programme about him. He married Jayne Winstanley whose love was integral to much of his work. He sadly passed away from a sudden illness in May 2021. He was at that time preparing this book for publication, and many of his personal, present tense comments have been left as he wrote them: "Because of the circumstances in which this collection was written, this is probably my most personal and, I hope, my most honest set of poems to date."
PBS Members can order Crash Wake and Other Poems with 25% off here.

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