Emily Hasler’s debut collection moves between the local and the distant, the urban and the rural, and past and present. This is a poetry of emotional density underpinned with a lightness of touch. Hasler’s poems are structural but organic, detailed but lively, thoughtful but playful. There is a rare combination of exactitude and wonder which leads the reader in and keeps them there. Often taking their cue from the work of visual artists, these poems probe at the ways we understand and reconstruct our environment. Examining places, objects, buildings, landscapes, rivers and bridges, these poems ask how our world is made, and how it makes us.
'Emily Hasler's poems invite us to look again at the ways in which we construct - and constrain - meaning, experience, ourselves and each other. They draw on past narratives and historical forms of investment to suggest future possibilities.'
'These poems are finely and patiently constructed, “the thought is latticed, girded by gaps”. Alive to the intangible, their architectural motifs continually shift back and forth, sometimes vertiginously, between the literal and the metaphorical.'
'The character of The Built Environment is perhaps best expressed in its own words: "There, / it starts to feel – in its united heart – that it is strong, light, supple, hard." Emily Hasler has nerve.'
'The poet of this brilliant, smart debut truly knows ‘how lucky we are to see ourselves in everything’ and wears that considerable wisdom lightly. We are drawn in with and by her, exposed and comported and instructed.'
Will Burns, Caught by the River
'This is an intriguing, deft collection, demonstrating Hasler’s spellbinding ability to make the material world leap from the page.'
Poetry Book Society
'Through questioning the constructed and natural things around us, as well as the flexibility of language, this book generates a restless and creative energy that not only revives its subjects, but also renews the sense of what a poem can do and be. Often, the poems left me trapped between wanting more and feeling completely satisfied, and Hasler’s unwillingness to be constrained by any dominant mode or theme affords The Built Environment a unique place in a poetic landscape dominated by heavily themed collections.'
John Challis, Poetry School
'The poems beautifully unite mathematics, art and emotion, giving the reader a sense of an environment that slowly shifts under all of our influence, animals and rain included, whether or not we are witting builders of that environment. The Built Environment illuminates this credibly – making it canonical thanks to its successful fusion of curiosity and clarity.'
Biana Pellet, The London Magazine
'Cerebral and thoughtful ... subtle, perfectly pitched.'
Suzannah V. Evans, Times Literary Supplement
‘Even readers sceptical about the history and geopolitics of Hasler’s English landscapes will find it hard to be unaffected by her self-reflective and imaginatively investigative portrayals of place…what makes The Built Environment a standout debut is its rare agility in combining the playful and the metaphysical in the kind of plain, humorous, and instructive style we find in Elizabeth Bishop and Marianne Moore.’
Kit Fan, The Poetry Review
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