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How To Build A City by Tom Chivers

How To Build A City

Part of the Salt Modern Poets Series


How To Build A City by Tom Chivers

How To Build A City is the Crashaw Prize-winning debut collection of poetry by Tom Chivers. It is a poetic interrogation of the twenty-first century urban experience, drawing on the history, culture, society and topography of London. Chivers takes his cue from radical writers such as Iain Sinclair and Barry MacSweeney to create an impressionist poetry, marked by playful riddling, found texts and unusual juxtapositions. How To Build A City is peopled by ghosts of London's past as well as the distinctly modern spectres of spam email, international terrorism and the credit crunch. The title piece is a choppy, sardonic investigation of contemporary East London, a travelogue that never really leaves Liverpool Street Station. Some of the poems are personal accounts of love and loss, including `Thom, C & I', a long sequence of lyrical fragments cut from a diary written by the poet's mother. Other poems take the reader away from the city to the fenlands of Medieval East Anglia, apple-heavy Himalayan gardens and the bleak uplands of Northern England. How To Build A City captures the mood of a fluctuating, unstable metropolis that is continually coming to terms with multiple and conflicting identities.


Tom Chivers
sardonic wit created a sense of a London which was always out to crap on his shoulder

. -- George Ttoouli * Gists & Piths * Tom Chivers has a striking, individual voice and a powerful one. -- Patricia Prime * NHI Review * Dark London history, dredged and interrogated, spits and fizzes with corrosive wit. Language-receipts sustain the necessary illusion. IT MATTERS. It matters: the weight and pace of delivery, the balance of breath. Tom Chivers understands the risks he risks, the play in a taught rope. 'I'll ghost-write, if you ask. -- Iain Sinclair

About the Author

Tom Chivers was born in London in 1983. A writer, editor and promoter, he is Director of Penned in the Margins, Co-Director of London Word Festival and Associate Editor of Tears in the Fence. He was Poet in Residence at The Bishopsgate Institute, London. A limited edition sequence entitled The Terrors was published by Nine Arches Press in 2009. How To Build A City is his first full collection.

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Book Info

Publication date

15th July 2011


Tom Chivers

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Salt Publishing


84 pages


Poetry by individual poets



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