The Many Hundreds of the Scent
A TELEGRAPH BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR 2023
'One of the most erudite and inventive poets of our time' Guardian
Shane McCrae, one of the most powerful voices in contemporary poetry, returns with The Many Hundreds of the Scent, an urgent new collection that brims with lyric force. He expands both the poetic and the personal mythologies that he has been constructing over the course of his career; in addition to introducing his readers to 'the thin king / who eats the world,' McCrae invites them to bear witness to his tangle of childhood memories. In brutal, sorrowful lines, he recounts being kidnapped by his white supremacist maternal grandparents from his Black father as a boy. 'O reader, listener, stay,' McCrae writes. 'You are now evidence.'
In The Many Hundreds of the Scent, Homeric figures mingle with those that populate the poet's world. Helen weighs Paris's spear in her hand and bloodies a raging Achilles; Penelope burns her loom each night; Dido watches Aeneas's ship burn on the horizon. A strikingly original and engaging poet, McCrae continually surprises - the collection includes a series of poems about the advent of post-rock and Hex, the debut album of the band Bark Psychosis. With this collection, he has once more crafted an extraordinarily affecting book of poetry. As Kate Kellaway writes in the Guardian, 'In McCrae's hands, poetry is reclamation. It is also transport: writing a way out and through.'
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