ABOUT KEITH CHANDLER
Born in Nigeria, educated at Christ’s Hospital and New College, Oxford, Keith Chandler worked as a schoolteacher in Liverpool, London and Norfolk. Since being selected for Ten English Poets (Carcanet) in 1978, his poetry has been published in four collections: Kett’s Rebellion (Carcanet), Passing Trade (O.H.P.), A Different Kind of Smoke (Redbeck) and The English Civil War Part 2 (Peterloo).
“The Goldsmith’s Apprentice opens with a wonderful sequence of poems about work. From glassworkers to glass eye fitters, these poems understand the routines and insanities of what people do to earn a crust, revealing with great empathy the impact of industry on lives. This wide-ranging collection moves outwards from there to a broad scope of subjects, from ties to lost campervans, from an old man at the gym to a moving final sequence about a grandchild. Now humorous, now powerful, crammed with good ideas and great endings, these are accessible poems which are deeply engaged with both the ephemera and the big issues of ordinary lives.
More than anything, I value them for their great humanity, their understanding of the power of poetry to celebrate the importance of lives lost to history, tough work or a duff education system. To appropriate the ending of a wonderfully moving poem about a nurse, these poems, coming as they do out of the best motivations and the deepest artistic rigour, are The Real Thing.”
Winner of The Costa Award for Poetry
This is a fresh, nuanced and humane collection of poems with its eye and ear to the world – to the world of work in particular, and to the craft of survival. It is a wonderful and generous book. The poems welcome you in and hold your attention with their deftness, attentiveness and joy-in-making.
Winner of The Ted Hughes Award
An example poem… which to choose?!! … well… after the above from Jonathan Edwards:
How wonderful you are, bursting late
into this waiting room of politeness and fear
with its Hello/Country Life fantazines,
discreet fliers (‘How to Stay Positive’),
help groups, homeopathic diets
and Chapel “just along the corridor”
without apology showing everyone
with a ‘TA-DA!’ whisk of your ocelot
the ladder running up your inside thigh
announcing without tact or holdback
in a half Brummie half Jamaican accent
how lucky it was you wore knickers today,
taking by the hand one by one
the women in not quite convincing wigs
or bald as an egg or surreal woollen hats
towards what you call your ‘milking parlour’,
talking nineteen to the dozen so they hardly notice
being rigged up to the poison drips,
talking nineteen to the dozen about the daughter
you left (late again) at her first school,
managing even among the moon-faced
and eyebrowless to raise a smile,
fitting the needle so they hardly notice
how difficult it is now to find a vein.
In this palace of fake cheerfulness
with its wipe clean smiles and flower prints
and a chaplain who asks if there is anything
all morning I hear naughty laughter
billowing out from behind the screens
and think: yes, you are The Real Thing.