Fourth Person Singular

BookFourth Person Singular

Fourth Person Singular

Pavilion Poetry


April 11th, 2017

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Shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection 2017
A Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry 2017
Claudia Rankine described the poems in Alsadir’s first book as 'lawless,' ‘provocative, and 'heartbreaking' as they 'converse from the inside out… come alive in the back and forth of a mind attempting to understand what it means to be in relation to.’ Fourth Person Singular continues to blow open the relationship between self and world in a working through of lyric shame, bending poetic form through fragment, lyric essay, aphorisms mined from the unconscious, and pop-up associations, to explore the complexities, congruities, disturbances - as well as the beauty - involved in self-representation in language. As unexpected as it is bold, Alsadir's ambitious tour de force demands we pay new attention to the current conversation about the nature of lyric – and human relationships – in the 21st century.


Fourth Person Singular ‘defends and explodes lyric form.’
Walton Muyumba, National Book Critics Circle

‘Blazingly intelligent.’
Patrick Flanery, BBC Radio 4 Open Book

‘It’s a way of writing, fragmentary, distilled, claiming for itself the unmediated interior lyrical thought without its usual formal decoration, that seems particularly current... looking aslant at the grand narratives... pressing at the problem (of creativity/authenticity) with a kind of honesty the lyric doesn’t have, disowning the lyric, whilst simultaneously stealing all its furniture.'
Sasha Dugdale, PN Review

‘While there’s a buzz of Superwoman sci-fi, even self- satire, about some of this...Alsadir makes a whole book out of a notion English readers have found hard to grasp for the past half-century, that it isn’t the poet who narrates the poem but the writer’s creative persona addressing a created listener...Fourth Person Singular [is] ambitious, witty, profound and fun.’
Magma Poetry Magazine

‘Tonally quiet yet barbed with insight.’
BK Fischer, American Book Review

‘One of the strangest most provocative books of poetry to arrive in these islands in many years.’
Dave Coates, Dave Poems

‘Written mostly as prose poems, the vignettes, aphorisms and anecdotes in Alsadir’s second poetry collection, Fourth Person Singular, turn inward to explore the rabbit holes of daily experience. Alsadir is an alchemist of the mundane. She finds metaphors in everything from highbrow art films and philosophy. The poems get emotionally messy, which I find exciting because this is a poet who knows a thing or two about rabbit holes and chooses to explore them anyway.’
Gregory Pardlo, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet

‘[A] flashing and aphoristic examination of the anxious mind.’
Jeremy Noel-Todd, The Sunday Times

‘To read Fourth Person Singular is to fall in love – that’s all I can say to capture the experience of being so scarily and exhilaratingly close to someone else’s thoughts on every vital page. Alsadir’s work is, as ever, full of astute observations and insights driven by a deep intellect, alive to the world and our fears, pressures, dreams and ideas. But there’s something greater here too: a unity of form and content, process and delivery which transfigures the conceptual and the lyric. I don't remember the last time I've read something which is at once so alive and so vigorously smart and ambitious; uniquely self-aware, caustically funny whilst constantly generous and compassionate. The rare joy of a writer finding the exact form for their voice and their mission. Essential reading.’
Luke Kennard

‘The movement from philosophy to personal experience, poetry, and atrocity, is intuitive yet careful, and without voyeuristic flânerie.’
Paul Batchelor, The New Statesman

‘A relief from the unbending isolated lyricism of mainstream British poetry.’
Sandeep Parmar, The White Review 'Books of the year' list

Fourth Person Singular is poetry that is neither verse nor exactly prose poetry, but aphorism, perception, quotation, annotation, a squeezing between the gaps in the windows and doorways of experience seeking for air. It is more than its pieces: it is a whole that is a form of understanding. It is that whole that is the complex and revelatory poem.’
George Szirtes

‘An important book for contemporary poetry.’
Sophie Collins, The White Review

Fourth Person Singular is an exhilarating, scrambling, blankly depressing, grieving, stabbing, and brilliant attempt at restoring silence (and thought) to our experience of the world.’
Will Harris, The Poetry School

‘[S]ardonically funny as well as cerebral', 'Alsadir’s “I” is refracted through a series of simultaneous and overlapping texts; lyric fragments jostle with footnotes, annotations and marginalia, all of which explode the “fiction of a singular voice”.’
Joanne O'Leary, The Times Literary Supplement

Fourth Person Singular is an elegant reckoning with the paradoxical temporality and multiple ontology of first-person writing. In probing the possibility and claims of lyric poetry, as well as its relationship to shame, Alsadir provides a powerful, ambivalent, yet beautiful instance of its ongoing need.’
Katherine Angel

Fourth Person Singular… merges questions of psychoanalysis and the self with fragmented considerations of lyric meaning.’
Rebecca Tamás, The White Review

Author Information

Nuar Alsadir is a poet, writer and psychoanalyst. Her poems and essays have appeared in numerous publications, including 'Granta', 'The New York Times Magazine', 'Slate', 'Grand Street', the 'Kenyon Review', 'tender', 'Poetry London' and 'Poetry Review'; and a collection of her poems, 'More Shadow Than Bird', was published by Salt in 2012. She is on the faculty at New York University, and works as a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst in private practice in New York.

Table of Contents

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