Physical by Andrew McMillan – Book Review

Physical by Andrew McMillan – Book Review

Physical by Andrew McMillan


Author – Andrew McMillan
Publisher – Jonathan Cape
Pages – 64
Released – 9th July 2015
ISBN-13 – 978-0224102131
Format – ebook, paperback
Reviewer – Stacey
Rating – 4 Stars
I received a free copy of this book.
This post contains affiliate links


Raw and urgent, these poems are hymns to the male body – to male friendship and male love – muscular, sometimes shocking, but always deeply moving. We are witness here to an almost religious celebration of the flesh: a flesh vital with the vulnerability of love and loss, to desire and its departure. In an extraordinary blend of McMillan’s own colloquial Yorkshire rhythms with a sinewy, Metaphysical music and Thom Gunn’s torque and speed – ‘your kiss was deep enough to stand in’ – the poems in this first collection confront what it is to be a man and interrogate the very idea of masculinity. This is poetry where every instance of human connection, from the casual encounter to the intimate relationship, becomes redeemable and revelatory.

Dispensing with conventional punctuation, the poet is attentive and alert to the quality of breathing, giving the work an extraordinary sense of being vividly poised and present – drawing lines that are deft, lyrical and perfectly pitched from a world of urban dereliction. An elegant stylist and unfashionably honest poet, McMillan’s eye and ear are tuned, exactly, to both the mechanics of the body and the miracles of the heart.

Review new 2021

In Andrew McMillan’s first book, which was nominated for numerous awards and the winner of the 2015 Guardian First Book Award and 2015 Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, you will find a collection of poems that are all about the male body.

Now I’m not a poetry expert, nor do I tend to read many poems, plus I’m not male, but I can tell you that the poems are really touching and make you stop and think, I can definitely see why the book was nominated and won awards.

The titles of some of the poems gave me a giggle, such as ‘The Men are Weeping in the Gym’ and ‘The Fact we Almost Killed a Badger is Incidental’, as well as some of the poems themselves – I’m not sure this was the right emotion to have, but it was what I felt.

The book although small really packs a lot in. It is also split into sections too and the wording is sometimes all over the place, but this works for poetry books.

You can tell how much thought went it these poems and how much of a thinker Andrew is. Poets are very creative individuals who never seem to stop contemplating the world and everything around them.

A brilliant piece of literary art and I enjoyed it immensely.

Reviewed by Stacey

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About the Author

Andrew McMillan

Andrew McMillan’s debut, physical, was the first poetry collection to win the Guardian First Book Award; it also won a Somerset Maugham Award, an Eric Gregory Award, a Northern Writers’ Award and the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize.

It was shortlisted for numerous others including the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Costa Poetry Award, the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection.

He is a senior lecturer in the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University.

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16 Responses

  1. Tasha says:

    I want to read this based on your review and the titles of the poems.

  2. DJ Sakata says:

    I fear I have become too mentally and emotionally lazy for poetry 😉

  3. Jennifer says:

    I don’t like poetry too much. However, I will try modern poetry and stop poetry sometimes,

  4. Definitely drawn in by the titles of those poems

  5. Gemma says:

    I don’t tend to read poetry. Maybe it’s something I should try.
    Gemma @

  6. Floryie says:

    Poetry is not my cup of tea but I am very much tempted by your review..

  7. Great, it’s a lovely book.

  8. I know that feeling.

  9. Wonderful I hope you get to read it.

  10. I don’t read it very often.

  11. Fantastic, it is certainly different to everyday poetry.

  12. Great review Stacey, I don’t read poetry books but this one looks and sounds very intriguing. I am really glad you fully enjoyed reading this book. Thank you so much for sharing your awesome post.

  13. Megan | Ginger Mom and Company says:

    Poetry isn’t really my thing but great review! I’m glad to see that you enjoyed it, though 🙂

  14. Not normally my thing either.