Shortlisted for the 2017 Ledbury Forte Poetry Prize For Second Collections. Sometime during the twentieth century, the self-mythology of the literary critic fused with that of the cowboy: lone outriders practising a defunct trade. In Holy Toldedo! John Clegg tracks the critic's silhouette over the dangerous, sun-drenched landscapes of New Mexico, California, Nashville, Utah, Oxford, Cambridge, and London. Here is Donald Davie listening to gospel radio in a Nashville taxi, and here is F. R. Leavis standing on a chair, 'unscrewing instead the world from round the lightbulb'. Vistas of bristlecone and citrus groves, pocked with fruit flies and rain birds, fuse with the glib-core of Oxbridge England, the university science labs where 'all three entrances felt like the back way'. Holy Toledo! is a history of English literary criticism in the twentieth century, a bestiary of the American Southwest, an unreliable guide to the desert. Generous, humorous, happily askew, Clegg's first Carcanet collection signals the flourishing of an 'emerging' poet as a major voice.
John Clegg was born in Chester in 1986, and grew up in Cambridge. In 2013, he won an Eric Gregory Award. His work was anthologized in Carcanet's bestselling New Poetries VI anthology. He gained a PhD in English Literature from Durham University and currently works as a bookseller in London.
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