Some people are sustained by sorrow.
I think I’m one of them.
That’s why I laugh so much.
That’s why I’m called a clown.
And that’s the deep dark reason why
I am accounted frivolous.
In his first collection of poetry after a career as a novelist spanning five decades, Paul Bailey offers in Inheritance an intimate reckoning. The poems mine memories of childhood, illness and lost loves with unflinching honesty, a generous humour born of self-knowledge, and great depth of feeling.
‘Unsentimental, funny, affectionate, deeply moving, the poems read almost off-the-cuff but work at levels of exactness, kindness and observation that throw open a whole closed century of English class-shift and time-shift, in a loving and piercing evocation of family, childhood, love, loss, sangfroid, survival, and with a celebration of all openness, especially openness to our losses and mortalities. Inheritance is quite an inheritance: a slim, calm volume whose resonance is huge.’ ‘... these disinctions are caught, beautifully and unexpectedly, in novelist Paul Bailey's first collection of poems, Inheritance, about age and self-consciousness, in which the shedding of one literary skin reveals another.’
– Ali Smith, New Statesman 'Books of the Year
– Will Eaves, Observer ‘Best Books of 2019’
‘Inheritance is a collection to engage not only the reader who knows all about contemporary poetry and probably writes it, but everyone who appreciates elegant craft, shapely storytelling and delicate love lyrics, with a touch of acerbic mischief to offset melancholy and no “poetic” pretentiousness whatever.’ – Carol Rumens, Guardian
‘Bailey writes exquisitely about everything he touches on.’
– Sunday Times