Letters from the Underworld by Alan Baker
‘It’s not too late to seek a newer world, is it?’ In a series of twenty epistles, written in the form of prose poems, Alan Baker takes us on a twenty-first century pilgrimage in search of the possibility of spiritual renewal in a world of globalised self-destruction. The poems do not shrink from expressing despair, but they never cease to reach out to us through their beauty and through their consistent plea to all of us to meet one another upon this honestly. As in Dante’s Commedia, many different kinds of language – the political, the spiritual the scientific, the commercial, the playful, the poetic – jostle up against each other in the way that language so often does in life. Like Dante, Baker refuses to isolate the poetic from the living. Yet however fragmented, the poems work together as a compelling whole, thanks to Baker’s measured and masterful use of the prose poem. These letters from the underworld represent the neo-modernist lyric at its best.