‘These are complex poems of darkness and radiance, miracle and desolation. And behind their answering energies, an awareness of the scintilla of grace.’
When Corpus won the Whitbread Poetry Award, the judges described it as ‘an outstanding, perfectly weighted collection that inspires meditation on the nature of the soul…reading it feels like making an exciting discovery and coming back to an acknowledged classic all at once.’ Michael Symmons Roberts’ first book, Soft Keys, was the original and most exciting discovery of all.
The poems in Soft Keys engage in a search for meaning and order in the everyday and in the extraordinary – a locust officer tracking swarms in an African desert, a hobbyist building a replica of the world out of matchsticks, a chance encounter with the French mystic Simone Weil playing video games in a Torquay arcade… Richly inventive, and written in a wide diversity of poetic forms, Soft Keys looks for those places and moments where the curtain between earth and heaven is thinnest; it was a powerful, arresting debut and the beginning of a remarkable career. As Les Murray said at the time: ‘Like Nijinsky, he can leap into the air and stay there. You can reach up and feel the thump of the stage finely persisting in an ankle bone. Roberts is a poet for the new, chastened, unenforcing age of faith that has just dawned.’
“I love Michael Symmons Roberts' poetry. He is a religious poet in a secular age. His work is about connection between the things of the spirit and the things of the world. And his work is about transcendence”
“The poems are highly accomplished, constituting an intelligent, courageous attempt to write a contemporary religious poetry, one where God and videogames co-exist. This is very hard to do, but the voice of Soft Keys is genuinely contemporary; the best poems are lit with finely-nuanced details which the imagination can relish. A poem such as "The Telex" is sure, strange, beautifully judged”