The Theological Museum
Strongly championed by Carol Ann Duffy, Alice Oswald and John Wakeman among others, Paul Stubbs is very much a poet of the new millennium. His work reads like a report from some Beckettian post-world in the process of becoming detached from orthodox values and meanings. Stubbs’s ‘theological museum’ is a place where dislocated fragments of traditional religion and metaphysics are collected and put on display like broken pieces of sculpture in a museum of antiquities. A number of poems in this debut collection have ‘religious’ titles, but Stubbs’s disturbing approach is comprehensively radical. This radicalism is evident in his rejection of conventional ideas about form and poetics – his disregard of ‘anything that smacks of poetical correctness‘, as Alice Oswald puts it in her Foreword.
To articulate his uncompromising vision, Stubbs wrestles with language, dislocating it from normal rules of grammar and syntax as though inventing a new idiom for a new age.
‘Stubbs uses his poems to slough off constraints, ruthlessly debunking gods and carving up bodies as he goes.’ — Sarah Crown, The Guardian, Saturday 8 October 2005.
“…this is indeed a remarkable collection, original to the point of idiosyncrasy, tussling with language, much in line with Eliot’s pronouncement that the poet ‘must become more and more comprehensive, more allusive, more indirect, in order to force, to dislocate, if necessary, language to his meaning.’ The result is not an easy or comfortable read but it is certainly a challenging and exciting one… He [Stubbs] takes on big themes, playing great earnest metaphysical games with religion and ways of perceiving the world. In this he resembles Philip Pullman in His Dark Materials. He is an ambitious poet of real originality.” — Matt Simpson (Read the full review)