From Professor Murasaki’s Notebooks on the Effects of Lightning on the Human Body

Having trained as a physicist – specialising in the science of cloud formation – and then later emerged as one of the more curious voices in British poetry, John Latham is not a writer you’re ever likely to forget. Merging the intricate beauties of his scientific perspective with a highly playful treatment of memory, landscape, and the imagination, Latham’s poems are masterpieces of British surrealism. Passionate, comedic, mysterious, the poems in this, his fifth collection, capture the vibrancy of a childhood that still fascinates him, alongside the cruel betrayals of old age, with equal grace. The wonders of the cosmos are no mysterious to Latham, than the simple oddity of other human beings. And, as the title poem demonstrates, every last quantum of detail, even the mistakes of a makeshift translation, are capable of the profound revelation.

[provisional cover]


His verse is almost all passionate recall of childhood and marriage, a poetry of sensitivity such as many novels offer. The detail is exact, the spirit of the past conjured through the words most feelingly.  – Peter Porter, Observer

Spectacular writing, with lines that hang around in the mind long after you’ve read them. –Ian McMillan, Iron

Whether writing from the child’s eye view of the man’s, John Latham emerges from this, funny, tender book as a poet who sees truths from a strikingly original angle of vision. – Jeremy Hooker, Anglo-Welsh Review

The poetic effects are subtle… yet he is able to make the tiniest details sing. Unsentimental, plain, but rhythmically invigorating… – John Greening, Poetry Review

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Book Details

27 Jul 2017

About the Author

John Latham

John Latham is a research scientist who has been awarded several medals by the Royal Meteorological Society, and was for 8 years President of the Inte…
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