Ulterior Atmospheres

This month’s blog is a review of a poetry collection just published by the Winner of the Live Canon Competition 2020, Samuel Prince. The striking cover photograph pictures a cityscape at night in a torrential downpour, the headlights of the cars on the autoroute rushing to far-flung destinations. Some of these landscapes and people they might meet are found in the pages of this collection.

Four dozen poems set off on this journey.

They end with “The Vastness”, an evocation of wilderness with the great closing line: “vastness looks straight back into you and you’re of terrible significance”.

By the wayside, the reader comes across a cavalcade of people and places. I can only pick out a few examples. “Lines from a Lost Location Scout” is memorably atmospheric. So too, is “In the Highest Infinity Pool on Earth” with its “open-spigot rain”. There is a crafty modern sonnet: “The Crooked Dice”, a “guaranteed dozen however thrown”.

You can hear the sound patterns in this and many other of his poems. Assonance and alliteration provide many of the main and internal rhymes throughout these works, but some pararhymes are also scattered throughout. He lifts the register and holds it up. Piling up dazzling sequences of original adjectives, never dropping into cliché, for example I liked “the cockcrow mist”. His ideas play out over long lines broken up with line ends; the rhythms are syncopated.

A surprising “Jackal” passes and is seen from the scavenger’s perspective. The lovely “Distance is Gloss” spins around the production values of Michael Mann films, those crystal-clear nightscapes. I loved the humour as we take off on a flight from “Schiphol” airport. Some readers might find the diction in some poems just a little too overloaded for their taste, but then this book demands multiple read-throughs. This collection is full of startling images, original subjects.

[1] Ulterior Atmospheres collection is from one of three winners of the Live Canon 2020 Collection competition, Samuel Prince. He was also winner of the 2018 Café Writers Poetry Competition. Ulterior Atmospheres, ISBN 978-1-909703-97 may be purchased at the author’s web site:


or from Live Canon at:


One thought on “Ulterior Atmospheres

  1. Thanks, Clifford Liles….I feel very tempted to buy this now (despite the 10 books I have to read by year end already).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s