Alf Wiltshire’s first volume follow many recent appearances in magazines; it marks an extraordinary debut by a poet owing nothing to the literary mainstream.
The kick of Alf Wiltshire’s poetry is its astonishing freshness – if you said new-minted he’d offer you a choc-chip. The linguistic inventiveness – dazzlingly out of synch with impacted trendies – stems from a delight in words, concepts, puns, as they bounce off the business of living. If Emily Dickinson was visited by Graucho Marx and not thrown out of the parlour, these serious larks might have soared up afterwards. It’s not simply Dickinson – with her unmatched cognitive originality – but the tradition of uncluttered originals that Wiltshire invites comparison with; Stevie Smith, even on occasion Laura Riding at her most benign. Wiltshire brings to his poetry too, the discipline of a painter whose eye on the typogrophy of his poems figures the inventiveness, even invectives, of his most serious work. It’s because of his 3D work that he comes to poetry with a Douanier-like angle to the universe