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Inventing Joy

Inventing Joy

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By George Szirtes

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Author of Notes on the Inner City and A Field Guide to Southern China

Necessity, says the proverb, is the mother of invention. Joy too is a necessity, particularly in a world so conscious of regrets and anxieties.

This short collection of poems considers that necessity and the obstacles in its way: exile, distance, haunting, identity, despair, killing… the list goes on.

Maybe there’s a joy in simply articulating and locating such occasions. So why not invent joy, as the poem says,

And let it thunder

Quietly, like this.


George Szirtes’s twelfth book of poem, Reel (2004) won the T S Eliot Prize for which he has been twice shortlisted since. His latest is Fresh Out of the Sky. (2021). His memoir The Photographer at Sixteen (2019) was awarded the James Tait Black Prize in 2020. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a co-winner of the International Booker translator’s prize His own books have been translated into various languages including Italian, German, Chinese and Hungarian. He has written for children, radio, and various composers.


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