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3.89  ·  Rating details ·  99 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Michael Symmons Roberts’ sixth – and most ambitious collection to date – takes its name from the ancient trade in powders, chemicals, salts and dyes, paints and cures. These poems offer a similarly potent and sensory multiplicity, unified through the formal constraint of 150 poems of 15 lines.

Like the medieval psalters echoed in its title, this collection contains both the
Paperback, 155 pages
Published April 4th 2013 by Cape Poetry
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3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  99 ratings  ·  24 reviews

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Nov 04, 2013 rated it really liked it

"The world's sick sweetness hooks your throat, / and all our songs and lamentations coalesce – / a hornet's nest that will not let you sleep."

"Drysalter" is a wonderful collection of poetry which lives of the tension Michael Symmons Roberts creates between the poles of religion, mysticism and the utterly mundane, as well as those of chaos and order.

There's an overwhelming sense of architecture to this book. Apart from the fact that this collection contains 150 poems which are all 15 lines long,
Apr 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-read-2014
Roberts has written this collection of 150 poems, each 15 lines long, on a diverse range of subjects, from the everyday to the ethereal.

Roberts has a control and mastery over the English language that is astonishing at time. He manages to convey his meaning and feelings with scant few words.

There were a few poems in here that I liked a lot, and some that just washed over me. I put that down to my relative inexperience with poetry, rather than the quality of the writing. It is probably worth a r
Oct 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, quiet, 2014
Mar 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
[rating = B-]
Mr. Roberts has a very accessible style and does not try to pose as some elitist poet genius. He talks of what is in front of him (though at times he does seem to have a bit of the metaphysical in him). He observes very acutely and has a clear voice on what he sees and describes them with very interesting and creative detail. Although not all his poems (perhaps because he restricts himself to 15 lines) are as full as some others, he does showcase a very competent array of poems. Als
Simon F. Cain
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent poetry. These vignettes are crystal-clear, fully comprehensible and meaningful, unlike much contemporary poetry today.
Jul 10, 2018 rated it liked it
darkness is no darkness

I wear my cure dried hide of absence

cameras glaze as petals falter

headlamps fade to dandelion clocks
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Unbelievably lyrical and gorgeous.
Sep 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Some really great poems in this collection but they're drowned out by the number of average ones. 150 poems is a lot for a collection, and the restrictive form sometimes prevents the poems developing in a more organic way. There's therefore quite a few which end unconvincingly or seem contrived, as the poem's run out of space. I'm also not really a fan of poems which are rigidly About Something - the range of topics here is vast and random and feels a bit like Roberts looked at something and tho ...more
Neon Magazine
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In the eighteenth century the term “drysalter” was used for merchants who dealt in a range of chemical products; dyes, salts, varnishes, colourings and preservatives. Michael Symmons Roberts has now taken this archaic word as a title for his sixth collection of poems, published recently by Cape Poetry. It’s an apt appropriation – Drysalter has a distinctly alchemical feel to it; each of its one hundred and fifty poems is an experiment, a mixing together of volatile elements to see what might res ...more
Michael Cayley
Mar 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
A series of 150 poems, all but one of fifteen lines. Within that limitation of length, they use a wide variety of verse structure and tone. They range from the mystical to the politically engaged. Many of the poems take very ordinary things as starting-points and transmute them into something wonderfully rich and strange. This volume shows Michael Symmons Roberts writing at his best, with his imagination at full stretch. If you like modern poetry, this is a book to relish.
Apr 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, authors
smitten 17
soul song 25
excise me 36
the others 44
the count 45
portrait of the psalmist in mid-life 48
portrait of a skull 49
night freight 56
the reckoning 59
what is written 63
lupine 69
portrait of a dove 73
a plate for a face 74
in cutaway 75
hymn to a ghost train 82
soul song 107
the road retaken 109
lachrima negativa 113
a new song 128
ascension 133
automatic soothsayer booth 139
Jerry Gilpin
Jul 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Fantastic, inventive, swooping collection within a strict discipline of 150 poems all of 15 lines. The title refers to the Psalter and these are spiritual poems shot through with a fresh twist on some familiar themes but no sense of a rigid orthodoxy or expectations of what we ought to mean by faith or spirituality. Tremendous!
May 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I’m very glad I read this collection of poems. The images the author uses are incredible, beautiful, and brilliant. Every poem…every poem seems an epiphany - a stunning morning, a quiet evening. Wow. Over and over again - this poet amazes. Sara Maitland suggested him to me when I visited her in April. I’m very glad she did.
E A M Harris
Jun 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A great selection of poems. For this book the poet has confined himself to 15 lines per poem, but within that limitation are a range of forms, subjects and emotions. Subjects concern nature, the spiritual life and some interesting relationships (e.g. a visitor to Olympus).
Recommended to anyone who likes poetry that is modern but structured.
Mandy Haggith
Jan 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: mars, poetry
150 poems, each of 15 lines, but huge variety among them. Some humourous, some bland, some profound, but eventually the uniformity of length felt limiting, as if there were longer, more sustained thoughts not being expressed within the self-imposed constraint.
Dec 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2015
This collection contains some really strong 15-line poems, but needed significant paring down. I felt drained even before hitting the halfway point. Still seeking that magical work of poetry that tackles alchemy with success.
Andy Hickmott
Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
An impressive conceptual book, though not of the Christian Bok ilk. 150 poems of 15 lines each, threaded with interwoven themes and sequences. Several titles repeat with variations. Much to enjoy but a lot to work through. Winner of the Costa Poetry Prize.
Apr 24, 2013 marked it as to-read
Shelves: poetry
Marina Sofia
Jan 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
A fascinating mix of old-fashioned cadences, rhythm, even vocabulary, with a modern slant, references to new technology, shocking new words. Poetry for our times, yet it also feels for all time.
Jan 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Read for uni!
Nicole K
Aug 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An immensely powerful book of poetry - I like almost every poem in this book.
Anne Brooke
Jul 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
There are a few really top class poems here, but sadly they're lost in the poor quality of the rest of the work. The collection needed a much stronger editor and a significant amount of culling.
Justine Knight
Apr 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wow that poet manages to create 150 poems of 15 lines and make each one as unique as a snowflake. Definitely worth buying
Kerry Charnock
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Michael Sheehan
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Dec 30, 2017
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21st Century Lite...: This topic has been closed to new comments. Poem of the Week: 10 April 2014 17 31 Apr 22, 2014 04:01AM  
Michael was born in 1963 and spent his childhood in Lancashire, England before moving south with his family to Newbury in Berkshire in the early ‘70’s. He went to comprehensive school in Newbury, then to Oxford University to read Philosophy & Theology.

After graduating, he trained as a newspaper journalist before joining the BBC in Cardiff as a radio producer in 1989. He moved with the BBC to L
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