‘This is a wonderful book of enthusiasms, intimacies and epiphanies and an unusual merging of a traditional poetry anthology with a compilation of blog posts…It is a given, or should be, that readers of Writing in Education are convinced of the power of literature to uplift, but if we should ever need reminding, this is the book that will do so.’
Victoria Field, Writing in Education, Summer 2015
Survivors Poetry review, Summer 2015: Poetry Express News 49
NAWE Review, Summer 2015: NAWE Review, Summer 2015
Third Way Review, November 2015: Lifesaving Poems Third Way Review November 2015
Nudge-books.com review, November 2015: Lifesaving Poems nudge-books review
Review by Mike Ferguson at mikeandenglish.wordpress.com, January 2016
Review by Allison Gonsalves, The Lancet Psychiatry, Vol 3, February 2016
‘Wilson’s selections emphasise the importance of mindful awareness, regardless of one’s personal journey. Chemotherapy by Julia Darling approaches the everyday from a grateful perspective: “I never thought that life could get this small,/that I would care so much about a cup,/the taste of tea, the texture of a shawl,/and whether or not I should get up”. Darling goes on to state that “the smallest things are gifts”. This, for Wilson, summarises “the entire universe of pain, gratitude, suffering, relief, anxiety and humour which the word ‘cancer’ registers”. Regardless of your own unique story and life lessons, Lifesaving Poems offers an avenue to mend the intrinsic brokenness of the human experience. For Wilson, reading poetry continues to be “like falling in love”. Lifesaving Poems can help you fall in love over and over again—and save your life too, one stanza at a time, line by line.’
Allison Gonsalves, The Lancet Psychiatry
Riddance is a remarkable collection, moving, but also funny and admirable, rueful and hopeful. A few of the poems are especially breathtaking; ‘Visitation’ in particular. But I think it’s the accretion of matter that’s most extraordinary, the way the collection grows and and occasionally twists back on itself, the way ideas pop up in different contexts so that the difficulty of the subject is gradually mediated by the honesty and insistence of the voice. Finally I loved its mundanity: if cancer is anything it is common, while poetry often aspires the universal. Anthony Wilson understands that commonness and universality are close cousins, but not quite the same thing, and that sensitivity shines throughout the collection.
Peter Scott, co-editor of The Junket
Reading the poems in Anthony Wilson’s Riddance I had the sensation of walking through a large house, switching on lamps and spotlights to illuminate not immediately visible nooks and crannies. Nowhere is there one garish light explaining everything at once and, although the book is divided into five sections, I felt inclined to move freely within the house, revisiting the poems I found the most satisfying, and there are many of them.
Riddance documents Wilson’s personal experience of cancer, from initial diagnosis and treatment to the tentative relief of being in remission. But Riddance is the opposite of a depressing read.
In facing death he witnesses, in exquisite detail, the pleasure to be found in small things.
A devastatingly candid and clear-eyed response to Wilson’s diagnosis in 2006 with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Riddance charts the progress of his treatment for this disease, from initial diagnosis to the uncertainty of remission, from The Year of Drinking Water to Reasons for Life, plotting hope’s slow curve against an ever-tremulous axis. Each poem is a small marvel on grave themes, a grand paean to the minutiae of a life worth cherishing, where Chemotherapy For Dummies is redrafted by The Script Writers Of Frasier, where ‘On bad days you long to be dead./ On good days you think you are’, each setback somehow answered by ‘that champagne moment’ of another tomorrow.
The Poetry Book Society Autumn Bulletin
Mike Ferguson has reviewed Riddance on his blog here
Judi Sutherland has reviewed Riddance at the Dr Fulminare blog:
Riddance deserves to be in every oncologist’s waiting room and given to every cancer patient’s family because it tells us how it actually feels to be treated for cancer, and it resists the ‘othering’ of cancer patients.
Ken Head has reviewed Riddance at Ink Sweat and Tears here
Martyn Halsall reviewed Riddance and Love for Now in the Church Times: Review of Riddance and Love for Now, Church Times
Andrew Neilson has reviewed Riddance for Magma poetry magazine: Magma poetry magazine review of Riddance:
‘a moving, often harrowing, book, while also offering a bracing demonstration of a skilled writer facing his grim subject head on’.
You can read a review of Riddance on Amazon here
You can read more reviews of Riddance here
A beautifully written story of one man’s journey through the uncertainty of life after diagnosis as he copes with his treatment for cancer. Told with great empathy and emotion, this book will make you laugh and it will make you cry, it’s an insightful exploration into the every day experience during chemo and radiotherapy.
The exhaustion he feels from simply walking, the endless episodes of Frasier, the realisation that work is not central to our lives and the wonderful joy this man gets from the smallest of comments from his son, daughter and wife.
Clever and a great help to anyone trying to understand the way other people get through their days and nights while living with cancer.
Whilst the author survives, others do not. He loses friends to the same disease but somewhere along the way he finds himself.
Great book, buy it.