Happiness is the long-anticipated debut collection from Jack Underwood. These bright, beguiling poems worry at the world, surreally exploring the ‘reservoir of wrongheaded questions’ with which love and death confront us. Readers will meet life’s strangeness half-way in poems where a childhood horse and recent lover look through a photo album together; where ‘sadness is a yacht . . . an anvil dropped from heaven’; fear for a future child is ‘a fizz building in a bad grey egg’; a beef steak is ‘a question, hung in itself, about blood’, and love is someone ‘pausing to move a snail somewhere safer in the rain’. In the unpredictable world of these inventive poems, visualisation becomes an empathetic act, a means of sharing the ‘fearful and forgotten things’ we lie to ourselves about.
Happiness is a collection preoccupied with the ephemerality of happiness itself, at the ever-present possibility of its departure, and the ways we try to grasp and keep hold of it. Self-aware and sad, daring and funny, this is an accomplished and memorable debut from a distinct new voice.’Jack Underwood has developed an utterly clear lyric that rebukes moral obviousness, drives against false certainty. It’s as refreshing as it is instructive . . . Underwood has become one of my favorite poets.’ Kaveh Akbar
Jack Underwood’s poetry debut, Happiness (2015), was celebrated for its unconventional and daring tone: ‘conversational, arresting . . . weird, singular’ (Guardian). Such qualities are on accomplished display in this anticipated new collection, as the poems mature and move on to a wide range of preoccupations, including imminent societal collapse and public unrest; the limits, myths and complexities of masculinity and fatherhood; and uncanny, often amusing scenarios, such as serving drinks to a gathering of fifteen babies or group kissing in Empathy Class.
Date: 2nd July 2015
Extent: 64 pp