Free delivery on orders over £25*

Please note: due to the recent change in tax regulations, we are currently unable to ship to EU countries.

*International orders incur a small additional delivery fee.



Notes on the Sonnets

Luke Kennard

"Wise, funny, mysterious, smart, elliptical, sad and moving ... Just read it"

Rishi Dastidar
winner of the forward prize for best collection 2021
longlisted for the rathbones folio prize
a poetry book society recommendation

Luke Kennard recasts Shakespeare's 154 sonnets as a series of anarchic prose poems set in the same joyless house party.

A physicist explains dark matter in the kitchen. A crying man is consoled by a Sigmund Freud action figure. An out-of-hours doctor sells phials of dark red liquid from a briefcase. Someone takes out a guitar.

Wry, insolent and self-eviscerating, Notes on the Sonnets riddles the Bard with the anxieties of the modern age, bringing Kennard’s affectionate critique to subjects as various as love, marriage, God, metaphysics and a sad horse.


Our price £9.99
RRP £9.99
Please note: due to the recent change in tax regulations, we are currently unable to ship to EU countries.
212 pages
ISBN 9781908058812
Published 23 April 2021
Cover design: Matthew Young


Joyously unclassifiable.
The Guardian

Kennard’s book, this endless party talk, is as riddling and enjoyable as the old sonnets on which it riffs. Think of it as the ideal cabaret: it never coheres, it never wants to, and it’ll never leave you at a loss for fun.
★★★★★The Telegraph

Consistently entertaining ... [Kennard's] most mature and emotionally vulnerable collection yet.
Tristram Fane Saunders, TLS

Luke Kennard has the uncanny genius of being able to stick a knife in your heart with such originality and verve that you start thinking “aren’t knives fascinating... and hearts, my god!” whilst everything slowly goes black.
Caroline Bird

Family life, doubt and faith, society, people, writers, social commentary, dark matter and string theory, the world at large, are all covered at some pace, each poem containing laugh-aloud ideas but also deep and considered moments which sneak up and surprise you ... extraordinary and original.
Rupert Loydell, International Times

Notes on the Sonnets is brilliant, brilliant in that way that things that are wise, funny, mysterious, smart, elliptical, sad and moving are. You can read it as prose poems, you can read it as (I did) a most brilliant novella of a party you both want to and never want to be at, you can read it as the ballad of Sad and Happy Horse; you can read it as a the endless longing that we all have and need to connect... You can read it as frankly a preview of what we shall all be doing once we can have legal parties again; you can read it as good a piece of philosophy masquerading as literature to do with a party since Mrs Dalloway; you can read it as an infinite tribute to Shakespeare... Just read it, because it is bloody brilliant and you will love it.
Rishi Dastidar

Notes on the Sonnets ... complicates history, truth and authority, all with wry wit, infectious humour and pronounced melancholia.
Kate Simpson, Poetry Review

Notes on the Sonnets is intoxicating – a kind of stream of semi-consciousness, at once alert (there are substances involved) and dazed, disorientated (there is rum involved). Sentences make your head spin, then hurt: in 154 poems, there are seemingly numberless ideas, observations, aphorisms, characters. [...] Any party, like any poem, can be surreal and self-conscious; but only the best ones revolve around love – the way we make and unmake it, the way the mind whirls under its influence.
Katherine Cowles, New Statesman

About the author

Luke Kennard is the author of five collections of poetry and three pamphlets. His second collection, The Harbour Beyond the Movie, was shortlisted for the 2007 Forward Prize for Best Collection and his fifth, Cain, for the 2017 Dylan Thomas Prize. He lectures in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham.

Related news & blogs


Recommended titles

The English Summer

Holly Hopkins

The Book of Naseeb

Khaled Nurul Hakim

The Actual

Inua Ellams

After the Formalities

Anthony Anaxagorou

Discover more

Connect with us

Thank you for subscribing to our email newsletter, Marginal Notes
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.