Brother Poem | Granta

  • Published: 02/03/2023
  • ISBN: 9781915051042
  • Granta Books
  • 96 pages

Brother Poem

Will Harris

At the heart of Brother Poem is a sequence addressed to a fictional brother. Through these fragments, Will Harris attempts to reckon with the past while mourning what never existed.

The text moves, cloud-like, through states of consciousness, beings and geographies, to create a moving portrait of contemporary anxieties around language and the need to communicate. With pronominal shifts, broken dialogisms, and obsessive feedback loops, it reflects on the fictions we tell ourselves, and in our attempts to live up to the demands of others.

From a dimension uncannily like our own, intuited through signs, whispers, and glitches, Brother Poem is shadowed by the loss of what can’t be seen. Telling stories of bizarre familial reckonings and difficult relationships, about love and living with others, it is a deeply sensitive coming-of-age poetics.

After the triumph of RENDANG, Will Harris takes us in this captivating new collection to a place altogether stranger, where the self is polished to a blur and memory a series of forking paths: 'Each time / you forget & remember the experience / becomes truer.' With uncommon brilliance and linguistic originality, this is a book that unpicks the myths we weave around ourselves as individuals or as nations. Harris is a poet I turn to for the solace of an idea perfectly caught. These are poems to dwell in; they challenge and restore.

Sarah Howe, author of Loop of Jade

In Brother Poem, Will Harris questions the real in everyday life and words, through crumbs of the past, crumbs of experience, through absence and loss, through media harm, 'cloudless dream,' and 'river mind,' migrating in the lines-what to say and how or to whom to address it? When the spirit moves as they do in these poems to you, carried forth in 'I-not-I' and others, bound by Harris's scopic reach and cortical hum, crackling like lightning in a jar, released into our cells of shared feelings, we jubilate.

Jeffrey Yang

The Author

Will Harris is a London-based writer. His debut poetry book, RENDANG, won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. His poems and essays have appeared in the New Republic, Poets & Writers, SPAM, the TLS, and Granta. He co-leads the Southbank Poetry Collective and works in extra care homes in Tower Hamlets as an activity worker. He is a visiting poetry fellow at UEA developing a new community-led archive of four poets’ work.

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From the Same Author


Will Harris

In RENDANG, Will Harris complicates and experiments with the lyric in a way that urges it forward. With an unflinching yet generous eye, RENDANG is a collection that engages equally with the pain and promise of self-perception. Drawing on his Anglo-Indonesian heritage, Harris shows us new ways to think about the contradictions of identity and cultural memory. He creates companions that speak to us in multiple languages; they sit next to us on the bus, walk with us through the crowd and talk to us while we’re chopping shallots. They deftly ask us to consider how and what we look at, as well as what we don’t look at and why.

Playing eruditely with and querying structures of narrative, with his use of the long poem, images, ekphrasis, and ruptured forms, RENDANG is a startling new take on the self, and how an identity is constructed. It is intellectual and accessible, moving and experimental, and combines a linguistic innovation with a deep emotional rooting.

Will Harris on

Essays & Memoir | Granta 161

Speaking Brother

Will Harris

‘I don’t have a brother; I’m an only child. But a few years ago I started writing poems in which a brother appears.’

Will Harris on why he created a brother.

Poetry | Granta 161

Brother Poem

Will Harris

‘Our snapped-off shadows / made a simple shape / one within the other like / a folded napkin’

Poetry by Will Harris.

In Conversation | The Online Edition

In Conversation

Sophie Collins & Will Harris

‘I’ve been dreaming wildly in lockdown. Have you?’