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A Brief and Biased History of Love

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A Brief and Biased History of Love

'A soft, blunt, insistent rhythm in Alan Humm’s lines beats time to accounts of absent friends, of urban landscapes, of past and present violence, of love’s uncertainties.'

- David Harsent

'Alan Humm's poised and poignant debut collection illuminates, with laser accuracy, ‘the dark shape in your heart/that comes to claim you as its own'. Here is first love, paternal love, spiritual love, the love for friends and for shared music – the songs that can change you and yet still take you back to who you once were. Above all, Humm understands the cost of love: loss, grief, yearning, the love that doesn't satisfy and doesn't comfort. The love that, as he adapts Yeats in his own new version of Byzantium, 'makes a country for old men'.

His searingly honest verse is shot through with startling imagery ('a dog reads midges/like foreign type' in 'Summer, newly over') while every line is perfectly placed, every word made to count. As a result, his luminous poems map the course not just of the poet's but all of our emotional lives. As Humm notes: 'Well, we all lose it;/ the thing that glows'. In the meantime, A Brief and Biased History of Love pinpoints the lingering shimmer of shared experience with exceptional confidence and compassion.'

- Jo Balmer, author of Catullus: Poems of Love and Hate.

'There is a searching quality to Alan Humm’s poetry. Like an anchorite drinking in each and every detail to sustain them for their ascetic seclusion in the cell, he looks, has looked at things very closely. But his is a secular perspective, with the intention of describing with exactitude the elusive incident of the everyday: the quality of light in its countless varieties, how it transforms the colour of a leaf or the aspect of a building; the accidental loveliness a body can acquire in movement and leisure.

His writing deftly investigates the mutability of experience – elements and sensations shift, merge, exchange – so light is “like a cupped hand” and “water seems black and hard as anthracite”. When the poet turns his eye towards people, the results are both compassionate and unflinching, from a tender sequence mediating on the grace notes and quirks of old friends to several powerfully visceral poems about the emotional contusions incurred from living with an alcoholic father.

This is an impressive, thoughtful debut which ultimately seeks answers to a great many inscrutabilities – not least why as humans we return to love as instinctively as breathing. To accompany him as a reader in his search is surprising and rewarding.'

- Louise Peterkin, author of The Night Jar.

A Brief and Biased History of Love, by Alan Humm, ISBN 978-1-912710-55-3, is £9 plus £3 p. and p. Please order using the Donate button here, leaving your name and address at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and we'll fulfil your order promptly.

Read 478 times Last modified on Thursday, 18 January 2024 18:13