Like his acclaimed Mandeville (2008), Matthew Francis's fourth Faber collection explores a world of marvels, real and fantastic. A man takes off for the moon in an engine drawn by geese, a poltergeist moves into a remote Welsh village, and a party of seventeenth-century Englishmen encounter the wonders of Russia - sledges, vodka, skating and Easter eggs. The scientist Robert Boyle basks in the newly discovered radiance of phosphorus (the noctiluca of the title) and the theme of light in darkness is taken up by the more personal poems in the book: phoneboxes, streetlamps, moonlight. The joys of the world and of the imagination find their equivalent in Francis's joy in the possibilities of language:
'A basket of snow for the Empress / with a poem of
modest triumph: / I made this out of what does not last.'
Matthew Francis is the author of three Faber collections, most recently Mandeville (2008). He has twice been shortlisted for the Forward Prize, and in 2004 was chosen as one of the Next Generation poets. He has also edited W.S. Graham's New Collected Poems, and published a collection of short stories, Singing a Man to Death (Cinnamon, 2012). He lives in west Wales and teaches creative writing at Aberystwyth University.