In this book-length lyric essay, a father and poet reflects on how the birth of his daughter at a time of global existential crisis inspired him to rediscover the importance of poetry as a form of understanding and living with uncertainty
'Fatherhood arrived for me as an existential crisis within the midst of a wider global existential crisis.'
In this highly original book-length lyric essay, a father and poet reflects on how his daughter's birth at a time of great global uncertainty inspired him to rediscover with fresh urgency the importance of language as a realm of 'intimacy, overlap, hope and trust'. Poetry can uniquely offer an understanding of the world which brings its complexity within reach - yet does not seek to reduce or explain that complexity away. Poetry is a form through which we might reckon with this uncertain world, learn to inhabit our precarious life more fluently and, in turn, offer what we learn to our children.
From Joan of Arc to the unfathomable gravity of supermassive black holes, from metaphor to quantum mechanics, Not Even This is a moving, thought-provoking work, full of delights. Jack Underwood is open and attentive to the questions that the world and his daughter continue to present: thrilling, terrifying, fundamental.
In clear, nimble, and dexterous prose, Underwood launches a capacious quest toward the unknown and maps the limits of knowledge via artmaking's potent yet elusive role in amplifying the unknowable. All this revolves and hovers over the intimate negotiation of perhaps the deepest mystery of all: fatherhood - and with it the precarious wonder, the fraught yet ever-vital annals of parenting and love
Reading Not Even This felt like waking up in a clearer, stranger and more beautiful world, with some new and holistic grasp of theoretical physics, finance and philosophy, poetry and parenthood. Every other page made me cry. Underwoord writes with such intellectual generosity and emotional precision, by turns as consoling as a hug and vertiginous as a sudden fall. It's a magical book. An incantation to be fully present, fully concerned, fully alive
Jack Underwood is a poet, writer and critic. His debut collection of poems Happiness was published by Faber in 2015 and won the Somerset Maugham Award. He is a recipient of an Eric Gregory Award, and a draft of NOT EVEN THIS was shortlisted for the Arts Foundation's prize for Creative Non-fiction in 2017. His work has appeared in The Poetry Review, Poetry London, Five Dials, The New Statesman, the Observer, TLS, Poetry, The White Review and Tate etc., as well as internationally and in translation. He is a senior lecturer in English and Creative Writing at Goldsmiths College.