The Thin Veneer

or here:

My poetry collection The Thin Veneer is available now from Dempsey & Windle, good bookshops, this website and Amazon. The Thin Veneer is a distinctive collection that explores themes such as the fragility of our existence and relationships, the power of nature, the impact of technology and the climate breakdown using traditional poetic forms, especially the sonnet form.

Dempsey & Windle, ISBN 978-1-913329-81-5, perfect bound, 42 pages.

The fourteen-line sonnet form has been used for centuries, to express classic themes such as love and loss. There has been a resurgence of interest in the form and it has become a vehicle for expressing contemporary issues. Open this collection of sonnets and open a window onto all that stands between civilisation and its loss: the thin veneer. In each of these ‘Fourteen Lines of Fracture’, you will read of loss, jealousy and betrayal; of solitude and those moments between life and death. The poems in this book include a sestina, villanelles and a number of variations on the sonnet form.

I wanted to write timeless works, informed by my life experiences, that could be read and re-read. I wanted them to be universal, focusing on the human condition and the need for humility in the face of the implacable power of nature. This sequence explores fragility across four sections entitled: “Life”, “Relationships”, “Society” and “Civilisation”. I trust you find this thought-provoking and enjoyable – many others have.

Available from:

Encomiums include:

“These poems speak of the lives we lead today, but with a rare intensity and sympathy.  Clifford Liles’ poems have an immediate appeal … a very thoughtful new voice”.

Professor Jan Pahl CBE, D.Litt., 2019.

“Clifford Liles examines the fragility of human existence through his adventures with sonnet form.  The poems consider relationships, technology, nature, and climate change and show us ‘The Thin Veneer’ over potential peril, the ‘Fourteen lines of fracture’ of the sub-title. He demonstrates a keen eye for the fresh, sometimes startling image. His deft handling of subtle metaphor and skilful attention to sound and rhythm make this collection a pleasure to read.”

Angela France,

The Thin Veneer by Clifford Liles displays his love for the sonnet and his expertise in writing it. Ingenious innovation and the use of half-rhymes, enjambment and allusion make sure that his use of the form never becomes stale. The poems address contemporary topics such as marriage breakdown, street protests, a coup d’état, dance-floor jealousy and homelessness, proving that the sonnet is as able to address our concerns now as it was to address those of Shakespeare’s or Petrarch’s time”.

Derek Sellen, Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year 2018, author of The Other Guernica (Cultured Llama Publishing)  The Other Guernica: Poems Inspired by Spanish Art – Cultured Llama


The Thin Veneer ISBN 9781913329815

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