I hate the man who stood back to back with me for the hour-long journey from Düsseldorf to Cologne. I didn’t see his face or his hands; I just felt his shoulder-blades and sometimes his elbows, when he explained something particularly keenly to his companion. He talked for the whole hour. His voice was quite impersonal–I would hardly recognize it again–and yet I hate him. I don’t wish him dead, but I would like to see him spend the next two hundred years listening only to his own voice, a gramophone recording of his own words, the ones he spoke from Dusseldorf to Cologne. First it was currency reform, and from there it was German efficiency, which has been suppressed because there was no currency reform. But it couldn’t be suppressed. No, nothing could suppress German efficiency and German workmanship. And German science and German soldiers. And the German armed forces and German confidence. And German toilet-seats. Nothing in the world could suppress all of that.
Shortlisted for the Forward Prizes for Poetry
‘I want the poem to destroy time. / What are the ceremonies of forgetting?’
An elegy by Nick Laird for his father, Alastair Laird, who died in 2021 of Covid-19. Shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem.
‘In the place where I grew up there were horses, thighs moving like nudity under their fur’
From Amnion by Stephanie Sy-Quia, published by Granta Books and shortlisted for the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection.
How Prayer Works
‘My brother and I hurried through sloppy postures of praise, quiet as the light pooling around us.’
A poem by Kaveh Akbar, from his shortlisted collection Pilgrim Bell, first published in Granta 156: Interiors.
‘I wanted to and then / Remembered why I want to never’
Poetry by Shane McCrae, shortlisted for Cain Named the Animal.
‘Would / the apple be concerned / if I said it was not an apple’
Poems by Padraig Regan, from Some Integrity, shortlisted for the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection.