Ground-breaking, visceral and transformative, Raymond Antrobus‘ new collection meets any high expectation after his acclaimed much-lauded debut collection. His exploratory investigation into language, miscommunication, place, and memory is noted in All The Names Given, while simultaneously getting us to the think about accessibility and inclusivity.
Raymond Antrobus is a deaf poet and teacher. He has won the Ted Hughes Award and became the first poet to be awarded the Rathbones Folio Prize. Meeting many firsts Antrobus wonderfully opens it up to us as readers to consider access and inclusion and transforms the poetry scene with his work.
All The Names Given opens with poems about the author’s surname—one that shouldn’t have survived into modernity—and examines the rich and fraught history carried within it. As Antrobus outlines a childhood caught between intimacy and brutality, sound and silence, and conflicting racial and cultural identities, the poem becomes a space in which the poet reckons with his own formidable ancestry, and bears witness to the indelible violence of the legacy wrought by colonialism.
The poems travel geographically, shifting between England, South Africa, Jamaica, and the American South—and brilliantly move from an examination of family history into the wandering lust of adolescence and finally, vividly into a plethora of complex poems about marriage, somewhat matured and considering of love’s vulnerability. However, the poems that I find most affecting are the ‘Text and Image’ collection as well as those concerning adolescence. Evocative and experimental, Antrobus’ techniques are intriguing.
Throughout, All The Names Given is punctuated with [Caption Poems] partially inspired by Deaf sound artist Christine Sun Kim, in which the art of writing captions attempts to fill in the silences and transitions between the poems as well as moments inside and outside of them. A particularly interesting technique.
Formally sophisticated, with a weighty perception and startling directness, All The Names Given is a transforming, tender book full of memory and nostalgia from one of the most important young poets of our generation.
All The Names Given is out now, published by Picador