Drawing history into the present, and bringing the distant near, these poems bring Chinese caves together with sleepwalkers in locked office blocks, Texan bird experts with the NHS, one night stands with sacrificial cats, and Antarctic explorers with the threat of suicide at a London bus stop. An investigation in four parts, Bottled Air includes travel lyrics and elegies for new discoveries, a short story in verse, love poems of seventeenth century prose filtered through email, and wayward notes. But it is a unified work, itself preoccupied with how the parts of a life might possibly make sense with one another, and with seeing what sustains, and threatens, inbetween: the air.
Caleb Klaces was born in Birmingham in 1983. He is the author of the chapbook All Safe All Well (Flarestack Poets, 2011). He is the winner of an Eric Gregory Award (2012), and recently announced as a ‘Granta New Poet’. He lives in London with his wife, the novelist Daisy Hildyard.
I’ve found myself going back to this collection again and again as if it were already an old favourite. The poems are imagistically intense, brave in their scope and hard-won humour and possess a wisdom one hopes for in the full flow of a career combined with the excitement of a debut. What’s refreshing is a sense that perhaps our best poetic reaction to chaos, uncertainty and horror is not Absurdism but a deep humanity, compassion and sincerity.
– Luke Kennard