Shortlisted for the 2017 Costa Poetry Award
Richard Osmond’s debut collection Useful Verses follows in the tradition of the best nature writing, being as much about the human world as the natural, the present as the past: Osmond, a professional forager, has a deep knowledge of flora and fauna as they appear in both natural and human history, as they are depicted in both folklore and herbal – but he views them through a wholly contemporary lens.
Chamomile is discussed through quantum physics, ants through social media, wood sorrel through online gambling, and mugwort through a traffic cone. In each case, Osmond offers an arresting and new perspective, and makes that hidden world that lives and breathes beside us vividly part of our own. This is a fiercely inventive, darkly witty and brilliantly observed debut from a voice unlike any other you have read before – and as far from any quaint and conservative notion of ‘nature poetry’ as it is possible to get.