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Burnt Umber

2017 - Shortlisted


Judges’ comments

This elegant collection ranges across a variety of approaches and forms. A number of ekphrastic poems bookend the volume. These poems are rich in observation and interpretation, showing the poet's ability to recast visual form into language. There are also prose poems, some short while others are extended meditations. The poet's lightness of touch is evident in these works and in his ability to amalgamate love and loss, strangeness and familiarity. The large and the small are brought beautifully into balance and focus, most strongly in the moving section ‘Viscera: poems from WWII’. These poems achieve an intimacy and focus through the astute selections of details and image.

Throughout this volume, Hetherington achieves clarity without sacrificing complexity. He is a poet whose rhythms and tones give intimate shape to his language and to a compassionate and wise voice. These poems are attended by a deep sense of what language can achieve when it is imagistic, investigative and precise, and of what is possible when a poet has full control of their craft.