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Penguin Modern Poets 1: If I’m Scared We Can’t Win

UK Publisher: Penguin

The Penguin Modern Poets are succinct guides to the richness and diversity of contemporary poetry. Every volume brings together representative selections from the work of three poets now writing, allowing the curious reader and the seasoned lover of poetry to encounter the most exciting voices of our moment.

“. . . And I was grown up, with your face on,
heating spice after spice to smoke out the smell of books, to burn
the taste buds off this bitten tongue, avoid ever speaking of you.”
– Emily Berry, ‘Her Inheritance’

“If you are not the free person you want to be you must find a place to tell the truth about that. To tell how things go for you.”
– Anne Carson, ‘Candor’

“I had a moment there
among the balustrades
and once that moment had expired
it graduated
from a moment to a life”
– Sophie Collins, ‘Dear No. 24601’



Two small, sorbet-coloured paperbacks were the most exciting thing in poetry this year. Reviving the 1960s Penguin Modern Poets series with panache, they united new and established voices from Britain and North America in electric pocketfuls — Jeremy Noel-Tod ― Sunday Times (Poetry Book of the Year)

This year, I rediscovered poetry. Yes, I know. It all went wrong with the first new Penguin Modern Poets . . . soon, it was Emily Berry for breakfast and Anne Carson on the bus — Charlotte Mendelson ― Guardian (Books of the Year)

This collection hits the ground running, both in terms of the work chosen and the way the first poem starts … There is deep, anxious wit in Emily Berry’s work … It illustrates what poetry does best: make us look at the world anew, and not necessarily with ease … If you don’t know Anne Carson’s work, you’re in for a treat … her poems are crammed with classical allusions that work even if you don’t know what she’s referring to … Carson has an intellect that is both high-powered and unstoppably playful: her jokes are more than just gags, but – and this is the great bit – they’re still funny … Sophie Collins, at the beginning of her career, has enormous promise … Her poem ‘An Unusual Day’ is not only extremely funny, it also gives us some clues as to the sternness of her gaze … No one else could put the words down on the page in quite this way — Nick Lezard ― The Guardian

A tremendous collection. Possibly the only book of poetry I’ve ever read through from start to finish — John Self

Sophie Collins grew up in Bergen, North Holland, and now lives in Glasgow. She is the author of Who Is...