Last Tape, The

Last Tape, The

In this haunting debut collection, Alex Niven explores a poetic hinterland that is also a psychological and cultural wilderness.


In this haunting debut collection, Alex Niven explores a poetic hinterland that is also a psychological and cultural wilderness. Adopting a style grounded in the radical minimalism of northern English modernism and romanticism, Niven writes poems constructed out of traditional forms cut up and reassembled to produce an abrupt lyric realism ideally suited to the political subject matter of his verse. These are poems of anger, mourning, and finally, extraordinary optimism, announcing the arrival of a historically lucid new bearing in twenty-first-century British poetry.


I couldn’t work out whether
you were part of the future
or a beautiful aftershock.

Blind spots where the sun snuck.
Your skin was syncopated, weightless.
We crossed every finish line,
woke immaculately new.


Alex Niven always has something to say that I’m better for having heard said. And he says it with passion and eloquence. One of his loci is a North of mind and place, and these poems remind us there is a north in every southern town, a south in every north. ~ Tom Pickard

'One of these days there will be movement …' The backdrop to Alex Niven's The Last Tape is the official story of the last three decades: the defeat of socialism in the eighties, the capitalist realist desert of the noughties, the nameless confusion of our current moment. With a compassion devoid of sentimentality, Niven reminds us of the casualties of capitalist triumphalism: lost lives, suppressed yearnings, prematurely terminated projects. Yet everywhere in The Last Tape we can feel the trace and pressure of other possibilities. Niven's vignettes quietly but insistently wager on the thought that progress is about to be resumed: 'After 1979/ Our reeling hopes were all erased/ But the last tape can be wiped again/ And the dreaming past can be rephrased.' ~ Mark Fisher, author of Ghosts Of My Life and Capitalist Realism

Alex Niven
Alex Niven Alex Niven was born in Northumberland in 1984. He is currently writing a D.Phil on the poet Basil Bunting at St John's College, Oxford. A fo...
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