No one I know or heard of
wants to live there now.
There are no signposts to the road.
from ‘A Silence Opens’
These poems are brimming with radical intent, drawing from a rich and varied lineage. Coleridge, Donne, Johnny Cash and the Renaissance alchemists John Dee and Robert Fludd are more than literary namedrops here – they are visionaries, true ‘men in black’, embodiments of dissent and an uncompromising search for answers.
Man in Black presents a startling vision of the countryside in decline, of ‘absent Dorset folk’ marginalised and repackaged for the tourist industry. In this vision, historical flashbacks and the ghosts of ‘men in black’ jostle for position with the contemporary; the learned with the lived. And all characterised by Caddy’s probing, visceral poetic language. Together with his previous collection The Willy Poems, Man in Black presents Caddy’s preoccupations with the outsider, the esoteric and the rural poor, confirming his reputation as one of England’s most significant poets of place.
‘The incantations and damnations of Caddy’s poetry are at full tilt … These are runic translations out of the woodlands, out of the fields, out of folktale and gossip, into modernity, into the doubts and occlusions of the urban. There’s mystery here, and a desire to explain the absences, to rediscover lost ‘home’. The book is like an ancient script that throws light on who and what we’ve become, and how. It comes out of the oppressed land.’
‘Who else could bring together the spirits of John Donne and Johnny Cash in one collection? In Man in Black, David Caddy, a quintessential poet of place, rakes through the gloss and plump of a Botoxed modern world to find what’s been lost. These poems echo like footsteps in an abandoned mill; haunting, mortal poems that face the human condition head on.’
‘David Caddy reaches forward, breaks the bounds of what is possible within the short poem, [taking] the reader to a new place altogether. The visionary quality in these poems [is] astonishing in its range, its depth, its complexity.’
Poetry Salzburg Review
‘Caddy has provided another important contribution to ecological literature. It is clear that Dorset is the portion of earth for which Caddy feels responsible. And Caddy speaks for it confidently, with pulsing anaphora, watchful litanies, and studied allusions.’
Janelle Adsit, Pedestal Magazine
‘Caddy’s exploration of Dorset history and landscape draws playful, illuminating parallels between the past and the present, and comments powerfully on the decline of the village.’
John Field, Poor Rude Lines