For every father, poems that reveal the gut-wrenching love and fears and insights at producing something similar to themselves. For every son, portraits of inadequacy, unlovedness and the strange fun of observing parents. For every family being part of a team not like any other team…all coloured by Richard Boden’s wry, challenging and expert scalpel The English Disease digs deep into the DNA of being a quietly English Dad and poet.
And more than that – the Englishness of all that past, all that literature and all those vivid ghosts – Byron, Shakespeare, Malovolio, the French – that wander into our particular ordinariness A startling, warm and witty first collection.
‘Whether he’s writing about the birth of his son, Byron in Greece or, as in the series of inter-related poems in the second half of the book, Richard Boden’s poetry explores its subjects and occasions with both imaginative flair and wry humour. An acute eye for detail and a felicity of diction combine in poems which offer a fresh and insightful take on the everyday business of living in an England whose default setting often seems to be little better than ‘underwhelming’. This and the frequent moments of bathos may perhaps draw an inevitable comparison with Philip Larkin, but Boden’s voice is very much his own and the poems here which respond to such un-Larkin-like subjects as Goya, Baudelaire and Calvino exhibit a breadth of cultural reference points and a tapping into other strands of European literature. Boden is particularly sharp on key moments of transition, approaching them with wit and an awareness that coming-of-age doesn’t stop with sex education lessons and a tumble on the school playing field.’
Tom Phillips, Poet, Editor, Translator