Chair of judges Jean Sprackland said each of the shortlisted books “spoke powerfully to us in its own distinctive voice”. She added that “from this strong field our choice is Sonnets for Albert, a luminous collection which celebrates humanity in all its contradictions and breathes new life into this enduring form.”
In Sonnets for Albert, Anthony returns to the autobiographical material explored in his earlier collection Bird Head Son. In this follow-up, he weighs the impact of being the son of an absent, or mostly absent, father. Though these poems threaten to break under the weight of their emotions, they are always masterfully poised as the stylish man they depict.
Reviewing the book in the Guardian, David Wheatley said that “after much silence and absence in life”, Joseph’s father was “painstakingly restored in death in a book-length ‘calypso sonnet’ sequence”.
Anthony worked on Sonnets for Albert during his Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship in 2019/20. As part of the Fellowships, we commissioned the recording of some of the sonnets set to music in a stunning collaboration with Jason Yarde on saxophone and Rod Youngs on drums. This 45-minute set can be watched on our Youtube channel.
You can read more about Anthony Joseph, and purchase Sonnets for Albert and his other works on Anthony’s website.