Time Lived, Without Its Flow

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What to expect

‘One of the most eloquent thinkers about our life in language’ The Sunday Times

Time Lived, Without Its Flow is a beautiful, unflinching essay on the nature of grief from critically acclaimed poet Denise Riley. From the horrific experience of maternal grief Riley wrote her celebrated collection Say Something Back, a modern classic of British poetry. This essay is a companion piece to that work, looking at the way time stops when we lose someone suddenly from our lives.

The first half is formed of diary-like entries written by Riley after the news of her son’s death, the entries building to paint a live portrait of loss. The second half is a ruminative post script written some years later with Riley looking back at the experience philosophically and attempting to map through it a literature of consolation. Written in precise and exacting prose, with remarkable insight and grace this book will form kind counsel to all those living on in the wake of grief. A modern-day counterpart to C. S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed.

Published widely for the first time since its original limited release, this revised edition features a special introduction by Max Porter, author of Grief is A Thing With Feathers.

‘Her writing is perfectly weighted, justifies its existence’ – Guardian

Critics Review

  • She’s a poet whose work . . . never fails to convince new readers with its intelligence, wit and emotion

    The Times
  • A terrific talent.

    Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy
  • Her strengths are so varied: notice one quality you admire, and another follows hard behind. Riley is an enormously gifted writer.

    Fiona Sampson, Guardian
  • An astonishing, eloquent examination of grief, but also of stasis and disrupted time in the face of loss. This book contains far more depth and enlightenment than its slim volume suggests, as it contemplates and rages, moves and soothes. Magnificent.

    Sinéad Gleeson, author of Constellations
  • Riley, one of the most eloquent thinkers about our life in language, had long ‘believed that thought is made in the mouth’. Suddenly, it is locked in . . . This almost unbearably crystalline essay, first published in 2012, recounts how death smashed her sense of how the world works.

    The Sunday Times
  • A precise and elegant exploration of what happens to time after a grievous loss. I felt a little wiser for having read it.

    Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of The Last Act of Love

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