- Published: 06/02/2020
- ISBN: 9781783785599
- Granta Books
- 80 pages
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.
Graceful and, at times, devastating
Books of the Year, Observer
Will Harris takes British poetry into new waters: RENDANG is an astonishing debut. These questing poems rend and render, they tear and they give. Slipping between the everyday and the unreal, between crystalline lyric and a roving, essayistic expansiveness, their shapeshifting delves into the self and its precarious foundations... Many are heart-stopping: the kind of poem that makes you put down the book for a while just to breathe
Sarah Howe, winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize
Harris's poems turn the utterance back to ourselves, opening a dialogue between us, our modernity, the depth of our loss and the weight of our remembering. Where epithets rend memory from the moment, the artefacts of wounds heal themselves through a weft of irony, weaving language into a hard-earned scar
From the Same Author
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.
Will Harris on Granta.com
Essays & Memoir | Granta 161
‘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
‘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
Sophie Collins & Will Harris
‘I’ve been dreaming wildly in lockdown. Have you?’