Happiness is the long-anticipated debut collection from Jack Underwood. These bright, beguiling poems worry at the world, surreally exploring the ‘reservoir of wrongheaded questions’ with which love and death confront us. Readers will meet life’s strangeness half-way in poems where a childhood horse and recent lover look through a photo album together; where ‘sadness is a yacht . . . an anvil dropped from heaven’; fear for a future child is ‘a fizz building in a bad grey egg’; a beef steak is ‘a question, hung in itself, about blood’, and love is someone ‘pausing to move a snail somewhere safer in the rain’. In the unpredictable world of these inventive poems, visualisation becomes an empathetic act, a means of sharing the ‘fearful and forgotten things’ we lie to ourselves about.
Happiness is a collection preoccupied with the ephemerality of happiness itself, at the ever-present possibility of its departure, and the ways we try to grasp and keep hold of it. Self-aware and sad, daring and funny, this is an accomplished and memorable debut from a distinct new voice.