Roger Elkin has won 60 First Prizes in (inter)national Poetry Competitions and several awards, including the Sylvia Plath Award for Poems about Women (1986), and the Howard Sergeant Memorial Award for Services to Poetry (1987). Sheer Poetry is his twelfth collection; his previous collections include Fixing Things (2011); Bird in the Hand (2012); Marking Time (2013); and Chance Meetings (2014). Editor of Envoi, (1991 – 2006), he is available for readings, workshops and poetry competition adjudication.
SHEER POETRY by Roger Elkin
'This is an enthralling, dextrous collection, varied and rich in theme and style. As always, Roger Elkin displays his love of language, its range and traditions, its complexities and subtle connotations. There is much to enjoy and explore but the outstanding section, for me, is the one entitled ‘Ireland’s Blight’. I defy anyone to read the stunning poem ‘Cooking Cabbages’ and not be moved.'
— Mandy Pannett
'This book excels in its range, dexterity and humanity … Sheer Poetry convinces equally at macro and micro levels...
Listen to the wonderful way in which diction, idiom and imagery are blended naturally in:
his triumphant run, jack-jumping with a clacking
accuracy that removes two, three, four black kings..
He laughs his little laugh. Like life! It’s just a game.
Best in both worlds, you know, not being huffed!
['Saving face with Grandpa and not being huffed']
Repeatedly these poems are constructed around the unexpected, or the provocatively ambiguous … Sheer Poetry includes the very best of Elkin’s writing, being expansive, warm, humorous and wise. Adjudicating (and having just relinquished Envoi), Roger said that good poetry should include:"sensitive use of language in the capturing of experience; the use of strong imagery; clear sensory articulation; a subtle handling of rhythm (not metre); a sense of the inevitability in the way that the poem’s argument develops and is resolved in the final lines; and for me, above all else an awareness of the interrelationship between content and form."
Look no further than Sheer Poetry to see these exacting standards exemplified.'
— Will Daunt (Envoi, October 2020)
Jocelyn Simms writes in Sentinal Quarterly:
There is a richness throughout the collection, whether cameos of neighbours and relatives or gritty descriptions of political confrontation. In Ireland’s Blight we get a glimpse of the terrible vindictiveness of one nation against another. Oliver Cromwell justifies the massacre of children in 1649 at Drogheda whilst Delia Smith’s tips on cooking cabbages is used as a coruscating forensic analogy for the Great Irish Famine. Roger Elkin is never one to flinch or look away but stakes out the territory with scrupulous care.
Elkin’s gift is to call forth a fresh slant to our awareness, appreciation and understanding of the world and our place in it
Read the full review here.
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