Sampler presents a selection of entries from an encyclopaedia written entirely by poets. The material, assembled by Sean Ashton into categories such as Fruit & Vegetables, Birdsong and Musical Instruments, offers insights into a range of themes: the precise timbre of a lapwing’s call, the heroic modesty of the double bass, the correct way to eat a peach. There are also answers to pertinent questions. What is it that makes hairdressers so special? Why is neon the noblest of gases? Could rugby be improved with the addition of a harpsichord?
In his capacity as chief editor, Ashton deploys poetry as an applied art, abandoning the lyric voice for a collective register. Somewhere between the private fancy of the individual and the strictures of the social is a forest of stranger truths. Few are stranger or more truthful than Sampler.