Kandace Siobhan Walker

Shortlisted for the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection 2023

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

Media Reviews

A collection of great promise that captures the exhilaration of being young. – Sunday Times

This debut is hilarious, moving and dazzlingly new … Cowboy marks the entry of a significant and exciting new voice into British poetry. – Rebecca Tamás, The Guardian

A truly dazzling debut, full of utterly inventive and original work … Walker’s voice is at once razor sharp and enigmatic, a sophisticated blend of control and swagger that gives the collection an assurance beyond its years. – Jane Yeh

A phenomenal debut. Walker’s voice speaks so sharply not just to this generation but also to generations past and to whatever will follow. – Gboyega Odubanjo

Cowboy is breathtaking in its depth, rootedness and conjurings … Kandace Siobhan Walker’s exquisite touch both harnesses and transforms tradition. Certainly one of the best poets of her generation. – Lillian Allen, Poet Laureate of Toronto

Electrifying, shocking even .. attuned precisely to the slippery present moment, reminding us that a poem might awaken something important or urgent within. – Richard Scott