Glyn Maxwell was born in Hertfordshire, England, in 1962. He has published eight books of poetry, four of which were New York Times Notable Books of the Year. His last collection, The Nerve, won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. His plays have been performed in New York, London, and at the Edinburgh Festival, where in 2004 his play about Mary Stuart, The Lifeblood, was the British Theatre Guide's 'Play of the Fringe'. Maxwell's novel The Girl Who Was Going To Die is published in 2008. He is currently the Poetry Editor of The New Republic and has recently returned to England after nine years in Massachusetts and Manhattan.

Glyn Maxwell's site

Three Poems by Glyn Maxwell


The notion was that there should be one hundred
        hopefuls and one winner.

But of course ten thousand showed up at the first
        slash of the first shutter.

And they wound around the town as if each second
        of a doomed child’s last hours

had come to life. When the perfect face was spotted
        the game was packed away:

relief all round, the news shot back like current
        down the line, and the chosen

helicoptered out of it, the smoke
        advancing, the roads empty.

[first published in The New Yorker]


Without a word of his I embrace his every
word. His work in mine and our lives only
words. I imagine the obstinate syllables
of his name like a bothering hand on the lapels
of Stalin now and then. I imagine him
having it brushed away. Neither of them
strikes me as caring greatly about the dull
ache the other makes elsewhere in his skull,
not even when those closest to them come
wondering what are you going to do about him?

Only a slow accrual of discomfort
can do it, and only at night at a point where hurt
turns into thought and brightens the horizon
with nothing but new words, whether a line
begun forever or one scribbled sentence.

[first published in The New York Sun]

Kaspar Hauser

My dream of her
was memories in heaps and the whole morning
at her age now

I think of her
is memories in heaps. In the great daylight
I do nothing

but see stars
like the wolf-boy they sat down in a world
of nonsense.

[first published in Poetry Review (London)]