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Andrew Motion is one of our most gifted writers, rightly acclaimed and widely-lauded for his biographies, novels and most particularly his poems. The Customs House is his first major new collection of poems since The Cinder Path (2006). It opens with a sequence of war poems which draws on soldiers’ experiences of war from 1914 until today – beginning with a story about Siegfried Sassoon and moving via World War Two and Korea to the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The poems combine understatement with a clear-eyed and unswerving candour.
But there are other rooms in The Customs House: a group of topographies, mapping moments in a marriage; and several ‘found’ poems in which the poet collaborates with his source, mixing what is there already with what is about to be there. The Customs House is a stunning collection of poems.