Praise for Zebra

‘In all of its magnificent bounty Zebra must be one of the poetry collections of 2019.’

– The Yorkshire Times, June 2019

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‘In the funny and tender Bad Fruit a fashionable cologne smells of “over-ripe” pears or possibly “unbottled men” – a brilliant phrase. Oscar Wilde is an important figure, but a melancholy and distant one who “sang his ballad / from a mauve cage”, in a lovely image from Another Boy’s StoryBare Branch is beautifully precise and balanced, exquisitely weighted, full of delicate exactness, poignant, deep and free of cultural cliché … with a clever image of mah jong tiles “clattering like tiny feet through the house”, it is an extraordinary feat of tact and complexity.’

– The Poetry Review, Vol 109, No 2, Summer 2019

‘The closing sentence of Under the microscope, about a laboratory dissection, reads “Art too wields the knife.” Confident, incisive, tender and sensual, Humphreys’ voice is leavened by a Puckish wit … Zebra reads not like a debut, but the virtuoso singing of an assured voice.’

– Orbis (No 188, Summer 2019)

‘The poems take us on a seamless journey from Manchester’s gay scene in the 1980s, to London and Hong Kong, and to rural and semi-rural settings such as the telephone box “stranded on the edge of town / open all hours for the disconnected”. They juxtapose light and dark, humour and grief as they explore coming of age, sexual identity and otherness … A wonderful debut and I look forward to reading more of Ian’s work.’

– The British Council (Literature Team, April 2019)

‘One major strength of the collection is that although the story of Humphreys’ gay evolution forms the backbone, it is given greater depth and scope by the inclusion of many fine poems on other aspects of his experience, such as childhood adventure and risk-taking (‘Coalscar Lake’) and a sensitivity to nature that brings to mind early Ted Hughes (‘Stubborn cow’).’

– London Grip (August 2019)

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