'Though unmarried I have had six children,' Walt Whitman claimed in a letter late in his life.The title poem of Mark Ford's third collection imagines the great poet's getting of these mysterious children, of whom no historical trace has ever emerged. Conception and extinction dominate this extraordinary new volume from one of the country's most exciting poets; it includes a lament for the passing of the passenger pigeon, a sestina on the Mau Mau insurrection in Kenya (where the poet was born), a chance encounter with a seventy-year-old Hart Crane in Greenwich Village, an elegy for Mick Imlah (whose Selected Poems Ford has edited for Faber), and a moving tribute to that weirdest of religious sects, the Mnster Anabaptists. Six Children is Ford's most formally varied and historically wide-ranging volume. It is sure to win many new admirers for a poet whose work has been championed by such as Helen Vendler, John Bayley, Barbara Everett, and John Ashbery.

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