The poems in Cowboy are knowing, millennial, internet-sick, funny, with deep undercurrents: of embodied and disembodied spiritualities; of the knowledge of animals; of familial mythologies; of grief and longing; of autism and navigating diagnoses; of early and enduring disappointment; of the wildness underneath the smooth glass-and-chrome surfaces of contemporary life.
The echo of a question permeates the collection – where does a person grow up? – moving restlessly between rural Wales, London and the American South; between the esoteric spaces of the internet; between the artlessness of childhood and adolescence transfigured inexplicably into a disquieting adulthood, with its attendant weirdness of rent-paying, cohabiting, the churn of mindless work and alienation.
The generous abundance of Cowboy’s references – memes, early noughties television shows, pop songs, cities and their suburbs, video games – bring anxiety and pressure, joy and glory to this singularly impressive debut.
Shortlisted for the Forward Prize Best First Collection 2023