Alice Oswald reviews “The End of the Trial of Man”


“For nearly two decades (or perhaps millennia) Paul Stubbs has been engaged in the task of imagining what lies beyond the imagination. (…) There is no guardrail to this kind of project, no literary guide or physical limit, only exploration. The extraordinary thing about the poems in The End of the Trial of Man, his fifth collection, is that they never obey the so-called rules of creative writing. They never speak politely from the visible realm to the invisible, but, like X-rays, they get straight under the surface and make images of insides: “as along the wrought mental-wires of my brain vibrates now the voice of no God”. We’ve grown used to a different kind of poetry. To enjoy this book you have to perform something like a backward roll of Descartes, who pointed out that the mind is much more clearly and distinctly known to us than the world. Once you’ve dropped the idea that poets ought to write sensuous, sensible poems about sensuous, sensible things, then the Stubbs picture-show can start. (…) Everything about the verse is transgressive and brand-new and seemingly home-made. It’s no good tutting over its metrical or grammatical misbehaviour – you must watch the visions and let the rules remake themselves”.

Alice Oswald, The Poetry Review (Volume 105:2 Summer 2015, pages 46-48).



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