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The Perseverance

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  382 ratings  ·  68 reviews
The Perseverance is the remarkable debut book by British-Jamaican poet Raymond Antrobus. Ranging across history and continents, these poems operate in the spaces in between, their haunting lyrics creating new, hybrid territories.

The Perseverance is a book of loss, contested language and praise, where elegies for the poet’s father sit alongside meditations on the d/Deaf exp
Paperback, 91 pages
Published October 1st 2018 by Penned in the Margins
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(3.5) Antrobus is a British-Jamaican poet with an MA in Spoken Word Education who has held multiple residencies in London schools and works as a freelance teacher and poet. His poems dwell on the uneasiness of bearing a hybrid identity – he’s biracial and deaf but functional in the hearing world – and reflect on the loss of his father and the intricacies of Deaf history.

I was previously unaware of the difference between “deaf” and “Deaf,” but it’s explained in the book’s endnotes: Deaf refers to
Feb 02, 2020 rated it liked it
[3.5] The Perseverance was an eye-opening read: it broadened my understanding of the d/Deaf experience. The collection is a personal and historical exploration of the subject, ranging from the author’s own observations to e.g. the representation of a deaf character in Dickens. These confessional-type poems employ an array of styles, predominantly free verse in various shapes. I am somewhat allergic to the way publishers market minority literature along the trendy lines of ‘these poems operate in ...more
Jackie Law
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it

I am a one-word question,
a one-man
patience test.


What language
would we speak
without ears?”

Raymond Antrobus is: a poet; a teacher; a son; British Jamaican; Deaf. All of these attributes colour his writing in this, his latest poetry collection.

The Perseverance explores not only experiences lived, or shared with the author, but also the effects of heritage and culture across generations. He writes of how language is used and how this varies in time and place. What does not change is the n
James Murphy
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Think of listening to jazz as hearing behind the notes. Think of reading poetry as finding emotion and understanding behind and between the words. This is especially true in Antrobus's poems about his now dead father and about his own deafness in which so much can be misheard or unheard. His poetry is about the blanks in his life left by family loss and by the lost words of everyday communication. Reading The Perseverance, though, I realize he hasn't misunderstood.
Courtney O'Donnell
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Best collection of poems I’ve ever read!!!! Most prominent themes are disability and blackness, written in the cleverest, most moving, gripping manner. I refused to take a break and read it in one sitting, but I’ve dog-eared my favourites to revisit with a fresh mind. Raymond Antrobus is so so so intelligent and creative - I have a new favourite poet. I loved this 🥺
This is my favourite poetry collection so far this year. In style, it reminds me of Danez Smith's Don't Call Us Dead, which I read last year and loved very much. Indeed, Antrobus has a poem here that echoes Smith's "Dear White America". I don't know that the poems in this collection are quite as arresting as Smith's poems, but they are really, really good too.

Antrobus is British-Jamaican and a member of the D/deaf community. He writes about D/deafness, race, and grief about his father's death in
Tara June Winch
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
incredible. deep. just the best poetry book you'll read this decade, more.
David Harris
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is my third (of four) reviews as part of shadow judging the The Sunday Times / University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year Award. I am part of the Shadow Panel which will make its own choice from the shortlist for the award.

The Perseverance (named, Antrobus explains in a note, after the London pub where his father used to drink) is a collection of twenty nine poems. In form they range from traditional poems to paragraphs of poetic text to scattered, bare words. There is a dense, angry re
Nov 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Firstly, I want to say thank you to FMCM Associates and The Sunday Times/ University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year Awards for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

I need to admit that poetry is not something that I read regularly and is not something that I would pick up for myself as a general rule. When I was asked to review this, I was apprehensive as it is not something I would read. However, I would like to read more poetry so I thought I would give it a go
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
In this debut collection, Antrobus explores different aspects of his identity, particularly being d/Deaf and being Jamaican-British. This book also delves into Deaf history, and looks at relationships between fathers and sons. I particularly admired Antrobus's focus on Deaf women in history, as I find I rarely see male poets writing about female historical figures. I found this collection witty, precise, and full of carefully controlled rage. Many of my favourite poems were about some aspect of ...more
Dana Elizabeth
Jul 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm never sure how to review poetry which I enjoy, because my main thoughts about poetry I love are incoherent. To avoid trying to articulate myself, this collection is very good.

My fave poems in the collection are "Echo", "The Perseverance", "Two Guns in the Sky for Daniel Harris", "Miami" and "Happy Birthday Moon."
Mar 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: u-n-i, 2019
I think it's difficult to rate poetry collections but I did enjoy this, it had a few really good poems that were amazing and a few that were just okay. Interested to see where the discussion at uni with this will go.
Dan Power
Jun 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
explores the d/Deaf experience with such clarity and high-definition that even the absences and white spaces become words with presence in themselves
Jay Moran
This is an upcoming title I was lucky enough to get an early copy of. This is a brilliant collection, discussing the multiple facets of identity, such as race (the author is of mixed heritage, English and Jamaican), disability, gender etc, and the isolation those identities can/do bring. Antrobus honestly and nakedly describes the fear and ignorance he's encountered due to his race and deafness, sometimes separately, other times combined. It's a passionate, raw account of the erasure of the d/De ...more
Sarah Young
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
“Deaf voices go missing like sound in space and I have left earth to find them.”
Em Power
Apr 18, 2020 rated it liked it
wow! i had probably read like 80% of this out of order but never finished it in its entirety. one of the few poems i hadn't read was 'dementia' which was deeply hurtful to me. :) i have woefully overannotated the perseverance - as in the titular poem, not the book itself, which just highlights how overannotated the former is - and thats on parents who have issues with alcoholism.

top tier poetry book best bit was definitely the reference to caroline bird in the notes section tho

Linda Hill
Nov 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
An anthology of writing on the theme of d/Deaf.

The Perseverance is an eclectic collection that truly took me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting quite such a perfectly poised balance of personal experience and international cultural and historical references. This style lodges the writing within both familiar and unknown eras and events for the reader, making it an immersive experience. I thoroughly appreciated the illustrations that accompany some of the work because they give a credence to another
I saw Raymond Antrobus live a few weeks ago, and he’s amazing! I know I’ve read books with deaf characters before, but I don’t think I’ve read much poetry. One thing that really stood out to me in this collection was how much it draws on current affairs. I had no idea bout some of the events that he drew on to inspire his poems, but it was still a feeling I recognise—of caring about the news and what it has to say and who is its victims and who are its protagonists, and who is silent. The fact t ...more
Maik Arnold
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The poet and educator Raymond Antrobus, born in Hackney, London, to an English mother and a Jamaican father, surprised me with the poetry collection The Perseverance. His poems are partly autobiographical. As he was born deaf, his poetry explores powerfully this very experience which include sign language, issues of bereavement, race and violence as well as orienting in a world of „noise“, coping with loss and experiences with his father. The author plays with different sorts of text forms and s ...more
Chris Baker
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, reviewed
It should be no surprise that a d/Deaf poet conjures a powerful sound world. The resonance of these poems oscillates between the voices of Antrobus' family - Jamacain patois, British market stall - his father's sound system tinkering and his own experinces of language and miscommunication (he couldn't hear, and thus pronounce, the second half of his own surname as a child). It bleeds between Jamaica and Britain, d/Deaf and 'hearing', old and young generations. At his most expansive Antrobus spea ...more
Karen Mace
Dec 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
My thanks to FMCM Associates and The Sunday Times/ University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year Awards for sending me a copy of this poetry collection in exchange for a fair and honest review. This was the winning book for 2019.

.A stunning collection of poetry by a very talented young deaf writer. Within this collection he really shows how powerful even just a few words can be especially when dealing with subjects I know very little about. But he shares with brutal honesty the challenges and i
Lynne Smith
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I feel privileged to have read this anthology in 10 daily staves on The Pigeonhole. It was ideal to read 5 or 6 poems each day, to ponder and re-read. I love Antrobus’ use of language with the Jamaican influence coming through. Check out lines such as,
‘I want to be fluent in confidence so large it speaks from its own sky’
It was such an illuminating view into his world as a Deaf poet, dual heritage Jamaican and British, alcoholic father, his identity and not being completely at home in any. His D
Konstantin R.
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
[rating = A-]
One of my: Best Books of the Year (for 2020)
From the cover, I know I had to read this collection. This has caused quite a stir in British literary circles and now I know why. Raymond is d/Deaf and writes about how deaf people are often thought of as broken. These poems are the best in his collection. His other poems have to do with his being half-Jamaican and the tensions of being too white-skinned/not dark-enough that arise. Here he slips in views of his alcoholic and womanizing fa
May 20, 2020 added it
I find poetry collections like this very hard to rate, so I will forgo the star rating on this one. For me The Perseverance provides unique insight into Deaf culture and life as a Jamaican-British person. It is the sort of insight only poetry can provide; no conventional narrative prose can tap into the author's emotions like poetry can. It is also a varied collection, describing not only Antrobus' own experiences, but those of fellow Deaf people, and even some of Deaf historical figures.

Thomas Goddard
Jun 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Another bit of poetry for this evening.

The collection tackles subjects surrounding the theme of race and deafness. The things unsaid but heard loudly throughout society. If you're listening. Or if you can read the signs.

The other day I heard twitter is introducing a voice tweet feature and I'm not sure why, but my first thought was... That's a shame really. If it takes off, there's a lot of users who won't be able to engage with it.

A lot of the world isn't geared towards the hard of hearing, b
Maria Rivas-mc
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Just finished Raymond Antrobus’ The Perseverance via @Pigeonhole. It is an amazing anthology that enthralls us with the passion of his written word as much as it teaches. A little thing perhaps but, in his notes, he explains what ‘d/Deaf’ means and the difference. The Big D refers to those who are born deaf who tend to learn sign before spoken language is acquired and consider deafness as part of their identity and culture - not a disability. The little d is someone who has lost their hearing af ...more
Mar 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry-2019
Antrobus's poetry is clear and affecting, all the more because he deals with inaudibility and misunderstanding. The warmth in the voice though, and the anger (at Ted Hughes, at Alexander Graham Bell, at Dickens) that so much hurt and untold difficulty was forced on D/deaf children through ignorance and unwillingness to meet them where they were. Antrobus writes powerfully against the notion that D/deaf people are 'broken' - it is the hearing who can't deal with other languages, other forms of co ...more
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am off to the rather lovely Durham Book Festival this week and their Festival Laureate is Raymond Antrobus, who I was lucky enough to meet when he was Poet of the Fair at this year’s LBF. I am immersing myself in his engaging poetry collection The Perseverance (Penned In The Margins) which won this year’s Rathbones Folio Prize and the Ted Hughes Award in 2018. In it he explores many issues around communication and loss, along with his deafness. If you get the chance to hear him read, as he has ...more
Julie Gardner
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this collection. Towards the end of the book, I decided to make a note of some of my favourite lines and within a few minutes I had already filled two pages of my notebook. Antrobus writes about his father with clear-eyed compassion. He also writes about deafness and race. Reading these poems, I found myself questioning my assumptions, considering my own response to disability and difference.
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Challenging, poignant, distress expressed in heartfelt documentaries of different cultures’ and families’ attitudes towards deafness.
The exploration of relationships particularly between parent and child and their perception of their deaf child.
Love and forgiveness feature large between his Father and him, brought memories of fetching my own Papa from the pub. ☺️
Exquisitely and divinely written.
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