On Valentine’s Day, 2006, I was was formally diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. Riddance is my poetic account of the experience of diagnosis, treatment, misdiagnosis of relapse, and coming to terms with survival from this disease.
While Riddance depicts waiting rooms and hospital corridors, it is also a book which celebrates ordinary life: friends, family, travel, walking, wedding parties and (not being good at) surfing and golf.
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What kept us going or sane
could be Col’s Jamie Oliver Bolognese
(for afters a tub of Cherry Garcia)
we’ll always associate with cancer.
Or, what we say we want to forget’s
in the end what made it bearable –
those vigils in the kitchen over coffee
when really there wasn’t much to discuss
a test that in normal life isn’t one
what happens when you’re not looking
or looking the other way
nice though that is sometimes, beautiful even.
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Some comments about Riddance:
Anthony Wilson is devastatingly direct and unsentimental about illness and death. At the same time -miraculously- he is exuberant, irrepressible in his celebration of life, complete with all its complexities and compromises. These are courageous, beautiful and fiercely intelligent poems.
This is a remarkable book – modest but ambitious, unguarded but clear-eyed and crafted, it doesn’t present a life under pressure so much as an embodiment of life in poem after generous-minded poem.
Peter SansomFollow @awilsonpoet