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Not Even This

On sale

6th May 2021

Price: £14.99

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Selected: Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781472156082

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‘[A] clever, cosmic, moving and funny parenting physics and poetry adventure . . . It’s wonderful’ Max Porter via Twitter

‘Clear, nimble and dexterous’ Ocean Vuong

‘It’s a magical book. An incantation to be fully present, fully concerned, fully alive’ Luke Kennard

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.


Luke Kennard
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. Underwood 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
Max Porter, via Twitter
Clever, cosmic, moving and funny; parenting, physics and poetry adventure . . . It's wonderful.
Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous
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
Houman Baraket, Guardian
A thoughtful essay-memoir on parenthood, in which Underwood recounts how he learned to manage his angst - "to live within the fear" - by embracing uncertainty . . . [Underwood] is a lucid and engaging companion. The voice that comes through in these pages is immensely likable - humble, conscientious and emotionally intelligent
'Underwood has the playful wisdom of Frank O'Hara, a Keatsian dedication to finding and worshipping joy, and a knack for giving frivolity, play and silliness a degree of serious attention'