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The Paper Lantern

Will Burns

3 Reviews

Rated 0

South & South East England, Natural history

An unnamed narrator charts and interrogates the shifts in mood and understanding in his middle-England hometown that have defined the lockdown period

'Will Burns is a soulful English poet of the kind we don't make enough of' MAX PORTER

'Hugely affecting and timely' LUKE TURNER

'A boldly struck chord, one that contains many of the dissonances, but also the harmonies, found in England today' CHRIS POWER

In THE PAPER LANTERN, a single speaker charts and interrogates the shifts in mood and understanding that have defined a surreal, transformative period in both his own history and that of the surrounding area. Set in a shuttered pub - The Paper Lantern - in a village in the very middle of the country adjacent to the Chequers estate, the narrator embarks on a series of walks in the Chiltern Hills, which become the landscape for evocations of a past scarred with trauma and a present lacking compass. From local raves in secret valleys and the history of landmarks such as Halton House, to the fallout of the lockdown period, climate change and capitalism, THE PAPER LANTERN creates a tangible, lived-in, complicated rendering of a place.

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Praise for The Paper Lantern

  • Will Burns is a soulful English poet of the kind we don't make enough of, fiercely intelligent, sensitive to the tiniest nuances of politics or history, attentive to the light and shade of human relationships, constantly addressing ideas of landscape and place with gentle, warm introspection. He is a poet of the unglamorous artificial English homelands, honest about class, memory, unease and experience in a way that few contemporary writers are. He doesn't try and sound clever in the line, he shows across his whole body of work that he is truly wise

  • I always feel as if - Essex aside - the area surrounding London is a big blank bonut when it comes to arts or literary non-fiction. Finally here is a writer who captures the psychology and topography of these weird market towns and villages where I grew up. We need these nuanced conversations more than ever and in Will's writing I get a real sense of an emerging discussion about what it is to be English and a man in the 21st century. I found it hugely affecting and timely

  • Will Burns has written a remarkable novel of the pandemic, told from the perspective of an outsider wandering in the heart of the country. His book is a boldly struck chord, one that contains many of the dissonances, but also the harmonies, found in England today

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Will Burns

Will Burns is a poet and writer based in Buckinghamshire. He began publishing his poetry in 2014 when he was named a Faber & Faber New Poet, and since then he has also published poetry pamphlets with Clutag Press, Rough Trade Books and his first full collection, COUNTRY MUSIC, with Offord Road Books in 2020, which was Book of the Week in the London Review Bookshop.


Will is a long-time contributor to the online nature-writing journal Caught by the River, and his work has been discussed in the Guardian, the Times Literary Supplement, Poetry Review and the Independent.

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