On Valentine’s Day, 2006, Anthony Wilson was formally diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. ‘Beginning with what happened’, the poems in Riddance chart the progress of his treatment for this disease, from initial diagnosis to the uncertain territory of remission. Even more essentially, the poems in Riddance recover and celebrate all that is most fundamental and affirming about the act of living .
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.