Will Harris

Longlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize 2021

Longlisted for the Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize 2021

Shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize 2020

Shortlisted for the The Forward Prize Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection 2020

A startlingly radical and surreal poetic journey, RENDANG takes the reader from West Sumatra to Planet Mongo via Gray’s Inn Road, alighting on Indonesian artefacts, gentrification, and citizenry.

RENDANG is an urgent comment on what it means to be a person now, a dissection of and love letter to the histories, places, and things that make us. Through adept and complex language play, a ludic voice, and a masterful command of form, Will Harris creates a poetry that charts the ambivalences, difficulties, and voices of our contemporary landscape.

Media Reviews

‘In his debut full-length poetry collection, Harris […] reflects on race, culture, memory and identity as he muses on how we relate to the world and to each other, creating companions in his poems who speak to us in a multitude of languages’ One to Watch, Bookseller
‘A playful and insightful exploration of contemporary notions of self and society’ Best Books of 2020, Guardian
‘Stand out among debuts is RENDANG’ Best Books of 2020, Financial Times
‘A rising star of the British poetry scene, Will Harris explores identity, race and the language we use to articulate our experiences of being in the world. RENDANG is Harris’ first full-length collection and is a heartfelt reflection of how it feels to fall between different cultures, languages and places’ Best Books of 2020, i-D Magazine
‘Will Harris’s RENDANG is a sharp and assured debut collection that meditates on the multiplicity of identity, the shaky building blocks that make up a country and the politics of exhibition. It travels from actual terrains in London, Chicago, Jakarta to the surreal “purple rock” of “Planet Mongo”, and this exploratory curiosity is matched by the collection’s formal expansiveness, encompassing accomplished prose-poems, concrete poetry and lyric sequences. Harris suffuses the everyday with a mythic dignity, so that the drunk singing Otis Redding in a pub takes on the tragic stature of Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner… The collection leans into a vocabulary all of its own, and announces itself as an artefact that will not be dislodged’ Guardian
‘Moving portraits of everyday grace… RENDANG develops the blend of wit and eloquence that [Harris] showcased in his 2018 essay Mixed-Race Superman… The poems in RENDANG span the formal range of a mature poet but it’s Harris’s playfulness that really impresses. He has the confidence and stylistic mastery to jump between dreams and scenes like a character in a video game… If verse is a tightrope, Harris skips along it’ Financial Times
‘The subtlest [and] most ambitious book out this month’ Telegraph
‘RENDANG makes a new aesthetic of confused talk about history and identity in England now. These lateral, witty poems often start like short stories, as Harris draws us into vignettes of vulnerable self-observation. But they end with the aphoristic force of pop songs, where emotion is suddenly pinned, tremulously, in an image or rhyme… It’s the debut of the year so far’ Sunday Times
‘With withering sleight of hand, Harris takes facile expectations of poets of colour and gleefully turns them inside out… These poems are disquisitions on the labour of poet-making, the delicate task of constructing a persona both on and off the page in a culture market currently inclined to reduce you to your ethno-cultural background… RENDANG is a wonder, and we are lucky to have it’ Poetry London
‘Harris’s poems can be lyrical and subtle, sometimes devastating, and then swerve into the surreal… Instead of grand revelation, the collection resists, and invites me into the details, the coincidences, the echoes, to find my own meanings. It asks me to try to piece things together, as they happen, as they are reflected upon. There is so much space for me as a reader to run and jump across, and it’s Harris’s generosity and grace that lets me in’ Poetry School
‘Dreamy and surreal, almost sci-fi at points, yet firmly grounded… RENDANG is a celebration, not a collection’ —RHINO