Robert Hamberger

Blue Wallpaper (2019)


SHORTLISTED for the 2020 POLARI PRIZE for excellence in LGBTQ+ literature.

Through the six sections of Blue Wallpaper – his fourth collection – Robert Hamberger explores family and friendship, the limits of masculinity, variations on Rimbaud sonnets, animal encounters, developing a queer identity and moving to the sea. His voice is intimate, questing and questioning, using the prism of personal experience to search themes of memory, home, ageing and love.

Blue Wallpaper contains ‘Unpacking the books’, highly commended in the 2019 Forward Prize.

ISBN: 9781906742850 Category:

Praise and Poems

Tender, humane and sensual poems which look with frankness at the body in ecstasy, the body in decline, the young body, and the middle-aged body, finding there a real beauty and the possibility of transcendence.   – Andrew McMillan

Robert Hamberger’s signature is the sonnet and the love poem. Love courses through this collection, in poems about the death of his mother, a childhood friend, a colleague. Perhaps it’s these deaths that make Blue Wallpaper so tenderly grateful for every day – watching his husband sleep, remembering an eccentric aunt, watching a pig by a fence. These are poems as vivid and surprising as the lives they celebrate.  – Jackie Wills


Leaving the Party Early

My dead friend said Why not leave
the party early? So, on the stroke
of midnight, before I become a pumpkin
or mouse, without dropping a glass
slipper, I abandon the songs I barely know,
and hear – through open windows higher
than myself – Dancing Queen, where
I’d been a dancing queen ten minutes
ago. The freedom of walking away,
dodging the cars when lights are green.
I eat a kebab, me – a vegetarian
for thirty years – with no-one telling me
not to, thinking I’ll dance for as long
as I choose, and never leave.

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