Arcimboldo's famous seventeenth-century Mannerist portraits, in which the sitter's face is composed of vegetables and fruit, suggest how - in subordinating a mixture of elements into an unrelated whole - the imagination can translate and transform the medium of expression itself. Tim Liardet's Arcimboldo's Bulldog: New and Selected Poems, which draws on his ten award-winning collections and adds new elements - fresh produce - reconfigures his life's work to date and draws it into a new, eloquent whole.
At the heart of the book readers will find material from his two T. S. Eliot Prize-shortlisted collections The Blood Choir (2006), written while he was teaching in a young offenders' high security prison, and The World Before Snow (2015), exploring in formally challenging terms the obsessive love story between an American and an English poet. Each poem deploys a forensic precision: vivid images, large abstractions, symbols, allegory, elegy, provocation, confession and lyric all find their necessary place in his work.
Arcimboldo's Bulldog is a record of achievement and includes a promissory note towards Liardet's eleventh collection.