Published December 2021.
The ‘Acts of Oblivion’ were a series of seventeenth-century laws enacted by both Parliamentarian and Royalist factions. Whatever their ends — pardoning revolutionary deeds, or expunging revolutionary speech from the record — they forced the people to forget. Against such injunctions, Paul Batchelor’s poems rebel. This long-awaited second collection, The Acts of Oblivion, listens in on some of England’s lost futures, such as those offered by radical but sidelined figures in the English Civil War, or by the deliberately destroyed mining communities of North East England, remembered here with bitter, illuminating force. The book also collects the acclaimed individual poems ‘Brother Coal’ and ‘A Form of Words’, alongside visions of the underworld as imagined by Homer, Lucian, Lucan, Ovid, and Dante.
Intensely characterized, and novelistic in their detail and in their grasp of national catastrophes, the poems in The Acts of Oblivion vindicate Andrew McNeillie’s description of Batchelor as ‘the most accomplished poet of his generation’. Batchelor’s first book, The Sinking Road (2008) was shortlisted for the Jerwood-Aldeburgh Best First Collection Prize. He has also published a chapbook, The Love Darg (2014), and edited a collection of essays, Reading Barry MacSweeney (2013). He has won an Eric Gregory Award, The Times Stephen Spender Prize for Translation, and the Edwin Morgan International Poetry Competition. His poems and translations have appeared in several anthologies and in Granta, the Guardian, the London Review of Books, Poetry, PN Review, Poetry Review, The Times, and the Times Literary Supplement