Night Window (Shearsman, 2024)

‘I go to Ian Seed’s poetry whenever I need reminding of the possibilities or a good slap in the inspiration. A master of the prose poem and the unexpected lyric. There’s a beautiful, painterly logic to these compositions and a perfect balance between the elevating magical and the crushingly disappointing. His narrators speak for all of us, at work, in transit, in family, memory, or continental cities. Grief-stricken, erotic, silly, embarrassed or baffled, but somehow determined to live “joyously and seriously” against the inexplicable, the obligatory and the mundane at whatever damn cost. Night Window is shot through with melancholy, wit, absences and bookshops – it deserves legions of readers.’ —Luke Kennard

‘Exquisitely voiced and deeply beguiling, Night Window explores impermanence in uncanny, liminal and provocative poems. Often set in the transitory spaces of trains, buses, cafes, markets and trattorie, narrators confront their nostalgia and self-imposed exile in a series of threshold moments foregrounding “obsession”, “unspeakable desire”, erotic remembrance and quotidian encounters. The motif of fenestration heightens the fusion between neo-Gothic outsiderness and modernity’s transcendent flaneurism in poems which are often mordantly humorous and sardonic. In self-reflexive, Calvinoesque moments, Seed reveals, “I have to find a way / to free the text to yield its story”and reminds us, “It takes a stranger to see the beauty”. Gertrude Stein once said Max Jacob had a “poet soul”. A translator of Jacob’s poetry, Ian Seed in Night Window, uncovers his own poet’s soul and cements his reputation as one of the finest contemporary proponents of the prose poem form.’ —Cassandra Atherton

'Seed’s great gift is in expressing self-doubt obliquely by charting a kind of existential self-doubt in worlds that are meaningfully meaningless.' —Billy Mills, Elliptical Movements.

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Full-length collections:

The Underground Cabaret (Shearsman, 2020)

'The Underground Cabaret is a series of sophisticated prose poems. The poems often give a surreal, dream-like picture of small incidents in charged, mysterious contexts. They are written with an easy elegance which underpins the surrealism and draws the reader into a world which feels real and whole, somehow. One of the blurb comments suggests that these pieces are actually about ‘what it means to be human’, and there is a lot of truth in that. In part, that sense is a result of Seed’s skill as a writer, in part too, it is the element of embedded realism which gives the pieces their foundation; an air of normalcy that runs through even the ‘weirdest’ of the pieces.' Ian Pople, PN Review.

'As a collection, The Underground Cabaret is more precise, more tightly structured than even its predecessors (which were themselves masterpieces of concision). It is compellingly readable, funny and at times filled with an eerie menace; all of which should appeal to the general reader. If there were any justice, it would be a bestseller.' Joe Darlington, Manchester Review of Books.

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New York Hotel (Shearsman Books, 2018) (TLS Book of the Year)

‘I greatly enjoyed the latest collection of Ian Seed’s beautifully-crafted prose poems, New York Hotel. Seed’s micro-narratives and oblique parables are at once droll and haunting, as unpredictable as quicksand, and as elegant as the work of those masters of the prose poem, Max Jacob and Pierre Reverdy.’ Mark Ford, Times Literary Supplement.

'Seed’s collection is a perfect combination of witty, bizarre, inventive and compelling. You find yourself invested in the characters and their narratives, like you would a novel, as they move through labyrinths of hotel lobbies, Italian streets, monasteries, and ultimately themselves.' Georgia Matthews, Stride Magazine.

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Operations of Water (Knives, Forks & Spoons Press, 2020)

‘What carries the reader is the weaving of sound into coherent patterns, alliteration, assonance, the balance of long and short vowels creating a music not far removed from folk song that plays against a syntax that’s nearer to John Cage. The pleasures of this book are of a different order to the prose poems, the challenges and rewards of reading them are greater, but worth the effort.’ Billy Mills, Elliptical Movements.

'The reader is offered a voyage to where ‘the water/ flows crystal clear down the middle of the street.’ Clarity then, and also a middle ground, but what kind of ship sails down a street? The clarity is deceptive, and the middle ground will be abandoned, as it is throughout Seed’s poetry, where openness can lead only to surprising turns of logic... with an appeal to both imagination and emotion, a sense of voice, and a defence of the spirit of the stream that covers the whole collection.' Daniel Bennet, The Journal.

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Identity Papers (Shearsman Books, 2016) (featured on BBC Radio 3's The Verb).

'As with Clare's' phantasmagorical world of journeying from High Beech to Helpstone, Ian Seed's journeying presents the reader with characters who move in and out of focus and who are disturbingly memorable.' Ian Brinton, Tears in the Fence.

'Seed skillfully mirrors the way life works: the chance meetings, the rebuffs, the misunderstandings. All this is done with a real sense of rhythm, of euphony, of music, and of yearning.’ Ian McMillan, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine.

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Makers of Empty Dreams (Shearsman Books, 2014) (featured on BBC Radio 3's The Verb).

We are in a dreamlike world in these poems which is always peopled and full of activity, yet strangely and rather beautifully empty and pervaded by a sense of loss.’ Jeremy Over, PN Review.

‘Ian Seed writes prose poems that are informed by the architecture and experience of modern urban life.’ Ian McMillan, The Verb, BBC Radio 3.

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Sleeping with the Ice Cream Vendor (Knives, Forks & Spoons Press, 2012)

'These are poems to return to, to puzzle over, to think about and possibly to dream about the images are so focussed and yet so shifting... I continue to be intrigued by his poetry and enjoy grappling with its delicate complexity.' Steve Spence, Stride.

‘These 40-odd pages of poems often reach into difficult human places… This is a rich & involving collection with a slow-burning emotional charge at its core.’ C.J. Allen, Leafe Press.

Shifting Registers (Shearsman Books, 2011)

'The mystery and sadness of empty rooms, chance encounters in the street, trains traveling through a landscape of snow become magical in Ian Seed's poems…they strike a complex chord that is completely original.’ John Ashbery, back cover of Shifting Registers.

‘There’s literature of value here, ideas worth rolling around in the tired grey matter upstairs; bringing both light and shadow, blending them, making you nervous. Joe Downes, Lancaster In Review.

Anonymous Intruder (Shearsman Books, 2009)

'The voices and landscapes in Anonymous Intruder are both elusive and yet hauntingly present.' Paul Wright, Writing in Education.

'Beauty, in Seed’s debut, never loses its power, and is everywhere pressing, active.' Virginia Konchan, Jacket Magazine.

'These poems and prose poems are full of atmosphere, fractured stories and suggestive directions.' Steven Waling, The North.

'The movement of the book and of its constituent pieces is towards the music and the light, and away from the apparent security of the closed, the static and the fossilised.' Peter Hughes, Intercapillary Space.

'I keep returning to this text, and I feel that these are poems I'll live with over time, which is a good recommendation for any book.' Alan Baker, Staple.