In a series of ninety-five poems we listen to The Reasoner , a voice that is by turns ardent, despairing and comic. Petty obsessions rub against attempts at philosophical seriousness; vernacular expression vies with an intent deliberation. Above all, the Reasoner is worried. He has cherished the tion that, with thought and study, the world may be understood. But the world remains recalcitrant, elusive even in simple things like the trickeries of light on a spider's web. Language plays tricks, although it may be as complete as we can manage. History proposes and disposes of its patterns. Behind all this there may be a 'hidden order' - and that is both a hope and a fear. Does God help us to understand any of this? Does Art? Is the 'soul' a sanctuary? The Reasoner , the reader, 'smiles ruefully and soldiers on', 'for this is t a wicked but a hard world, and people struggle, without a scheme of things, and deserve release.'
Jeffrey Wainwright was born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1944 and was educated locally and at the University of Leeds. He has taught at the University of Wales, Long Island University in Brooklyn and for many years at the Manchester Metropolitan University, where he was Professor of English until 2008. He is married to Judith Wainwright with whom he had two grown-up children. They live in Manchester and spend some parts of the year in Italy. Jeffrey Wainwright has written many articles and reviews on poetry and two books of criticism, Poetry the Basics (2004) and Acceptable Words:Essays on the Poetry of Geoffrey Hill (2005), and has translated plays by Peguy, Corneille and Koltes for radio and stage.