Reviews so far (extracts)

Morrison's political anger and vision find their true home in his superb poetry. The book is a delight - a challenging delight, it has to be said, but worth every furrow. Here is the poet introducing himself: 'They sussed I scrubbed up from humble origins/ by how my second-hand clothes wore me out/ of pocket...' From this point, there seems to be no aspect of society or art left unplumbed for truth-telling, in language that is rich, resonant, witty. The book's title is also the title of one of its sections, the 'Absent Sitters' being heroes of the poet, their names stitched in clever acrostics into their memorial verses. The homage to Ralph Vaughan Williams starts like this:

Rapt in his green-sleeved valleys, cascading
Arcadias of choral walls - O Clap Your Hands!
Largos, galloping folk-songs, fantasias,
Pastorals khaki - Bonny Boy Albion regained;
His vistas of gavotting verdant strides.

'The Ghosts of Haworth' evokes the dark brilliance of the Bronte household - the sisters' dialogue caught in dreamlike snatches (recalling T.S. Eliot or Beckett) interspersed with images of the craggy father 'Goodnight my children - don't stay up too late...' and of bright, doomed Branwell:

Satanic chapel-goer, fox-haired
disciple of Byron, de Quincy,
opium-puffed, burnt out to cinders
in the hot squall of needling sweat
clumping his curls to knotted thorns...

This is definitive stuff - when Morrison tells what has to be told, one feels suddenly there is no other way of telling it, which is how we think of the great poets. Morrison may well be one of them.

- Frances Thompson, The Journal 

Morrison writes in a rich, Miltonic voice, heavy with anger and prophecy. Britain is a "mossbacked Kingdom" owned and policed by the "blazered ranks" of the "straw-boatered," "privilege-peppered classes."

- Andy Croft, the Morning Star 
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A craftsman and maker of finespun poetry, a young poet as deep as the black lakes of mythology, ...Alan Morrison is like Musil's Young Torless armed with an all-seeing eye and a notebook. The end result is the counterblast that comes at us from many directions. Sometimes from many directions all at once. It's his destiny. His mission. And make no mistake about it. ...To read his latest collection is like a chocolate and champagne evening. A poetic luxury. ...In a universe full of ten-a-penny poets Alan Morrison is the genuine gold-struck and ready to be minted article. He is a poet setting off on his own unique journey; one that many will want to follow. A Tapestry of Absent Sitters is a clear step-up from Morrison's well-received Mansion Gardens for it packs the anger and verve we've been anticipating, hoping would dare break-out. It's a great feeling to be in at the start of what may ultimately prove to be a massive career.

- Gwilym Williams, Poet-in-Residence
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There are sonnets and villanelles in this collection, alongside a variety of looser verse forms, where the energy of Morrison's epic struggle within his main themes of poverty, class, education and social exclusion is aided by a wide vocabulary and a passionate intensity. This is a poetry which seems to be entirely devoid of the frenetic energies and increasingly empty ironies of much post-modern writing and there's a refreshing sense of engagement which is encouraging, especially in a young writer. …There's also variety of subject and a cultural richness within his writing which is impressive in its sweep. There's a depth and an energy to Morrison's writing …and there's a long way to go. The best could yet be to come.
- Steve Spence, Stride
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