James Arthur is known to compose in his head while walking, and the music of those footfalls and wandering skips can be heard throughout this exhilarating debut collection of poems.
With images both lush and concise, Arthur conveys the eerie wonder of awakening to the intimate revelations delivered from solitude—the specter of death in the far distance, the expanses between even the closest people, the world as seen by a traveler abroad. History, politics, and place are integrated and integral parts of the whole, yet Arthur invites the reader to plunge into the mysteries and uncertainties within everyday moments: “Can a man build a tower / out of air alone? He can. And the wind / will blow it away.”
“An entrenched strangeness exists in Arthur’s work, derived not from linguistic hijinks but from common observations … his tone is casual and confident, the effect slightly off-frame or out of focus, yet constantly arresting.” —The Believer
“This is one of those poems—we get them once in a while—where, you know, we don’t know who the poet is, and you see this poem, and you go ‘Who is this? How did they do that?’ This poem seems to me to have just come seamlessly from someone’s mind. It’s very intense.” —Don Share, discussing “The Land of Nod” in Poetry Magazine’s podcast