“There’s an enviable gusto and assurance about this debut, the confident voicing of a distinctive sensibility that deserves our attention. Lauder has a keen ear for the musical and metrical possibilities of the well-wrought line which well serves his deftly rendered lyric style. Particularly impressive are the domestic sequences and longer poems which hold both interest and momentum throughout: an achievement of poetic coherence and craft that can only be accomplished by a poet more than ready to stake a claim for his place on the contemporary scene.” Martin Malone
“In his debut collection, Charles G. Lauder is not afraid to delve beneath the surface of white masculinites, unearthing violence and toughness but vulnerability and tenderness also. This means examining his own past in the US; what he has inherited, what he brings to his life in England, and what he finds there. Again and again, poems reveal that his family is his lodestone: ‘We are our elements. I would be lost/without them.’ The Aesthetics of Breath is a rich and varied collection which has love and social justice at its heart but does not turn aside from uncomfortable truths.” Pam Thompson
“The Aesthetics of Breath is NOT a breath of fresh air – it is a deep breathing-in of a gas called ‘history’, so that it hurts in the lungs. Be they personal myths or legends of entire nations’ violence, here the vapours of various histories sublimate into Lauder’s vivid solidifications – poems that render the distance and otherness of places and times as touchable and smelt. Some of these poems are ‘stellar gases congealing into orbits’, and they are celebratory confirmations of essential stories we humans need to tell our selves. But be warned: some of these poems cast ‘Hiroshima shadow[s]’ to exorcise our civilisation’s pale myths, its ghosts that too often comfortably haunt us, and our too easy and shallow breaths of memes. At times this book is like opening a grave to find the buried still alive ... and violently gasping out accounts of ‘the ruling passions of the woods’.” Mark Goodwin
The Aesthetics of Breath is very personal, yet very eternal.
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And the man spied on the bridal path,
shimmering, vaporous, slow in gait
like a predator through grass, is black.
Parents waiting at the school gate
ask, Does he wear a backpack?
Our village is tasked with isolation
like an open wound wary of infection.
A Jamaican lived here for a season,
drank in the pub with his white wife’s son.
Are you visiting? we asked.
Our childminder is on the back lane
when the man falls in step, asks her name.
He is a carer for a chronic smoker
in Norden Heath. Going for a walk
is the only way he can breathe.