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a long poem


Isbn 9782919582013 – 2010 – 48 pages – 8 €

Ex Nihilo is an ambitious, unusual and thought-provoking work by a poet who is not afraid of pressing poetry to its limit, and beyond. If in T.S. Eliot fragments are shored against ruin, and hence look backward for sustenance, in Paul Stubbs’s poetry, fragments are the building blocks of thinking, writing and living right now. They point towards other ways of understanding and seeing: a perception that he captures in lines like “my imagination a cave wall to the one now / chalking up its own image onto the walls”, where a fragment of Plato is reworked into something else, not just nostalgic, public-historic or ante-X, but creative, personal and potent. The chiselled fragments of Stubbs’s poetry connect to something outside the poet (history, text etc.) and then walk off into a life of their own.

Tabish Khair

Also by Paul Stubbs

The Carbonized Earth, a study on Arthur Rimbaud, followed by Perfect Little Monster, a play in three acts (2024)

An Anatomy of the Icon / Une anatomie de l'icône (2022)

The Lost Songs of Gravity (2020)

Flesh (2015)

The Return to Silence (2017)

Paul Stubbs is the author of several poetry collections, and of books of poetical and philosophical essays. Visions de l’outre-monde, a selection of poems translated into French, was published by Hochroth-Paris. His poems and essays have appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies, including The Bitter Oleander, The High Window, The Wolf, The Poetry Review, The Shop, and the French literary magazines Les Carnets d’Eucharis, Nunc,, and Poésie première. He has been invited to read at the National Poetry Library (London), at Oxford University, at the Seamus Heaney Centre, at Kings Lynn Festival, and at various venues in New York and Paris. He also wrote the introductions of various books. He received awards for his writing from the Society of Authors and Arts Council East.




“I admire Ex Nihilo‘s outlandish attempt at a drama of origins, an evolutionary theodicy, sprouting ribs and gills, and phonemes, syllables, units of sense, lines, enjambements… No one is writing like this, or quite like this, or not that I have read recently in the English tongue” – Stephen Romer

Ex Nihilo is impressive and unlike much that one comes across in english poetry these days. Powerful Adamic beginning, and a sustained, multifaceted examination of essential questions concerning the construction of the self. It convincingly pushes poetry into the territory of philosophy.”

John Taylor

“… it must be held in the head only, and from there a realisation of Ex Nihilo’s importance departs and like a flaming beacon lit from peak to peak, communicates from one reader to another. (…) Ex Nihilo should be passed from hand to hand and by word of mouth. It should go under cover of the night in which it was born, so as to avoid being stopped and searched by the poetry society police.”

Will Stone in  Agenda, Vol 46 No 3 (April 2012).

Ex Nihilo re-defines the metaphysical geography of poetry itself. As a bold declaration of linguistic anthropology it announces a new beginning for British (and, indeed, World) poetry. One which is truly universal in its scope and an escape from parochialism. What we see here is a poet in full control of the rudiments of his form. Just like Valery’s potter Paul Stubbs has sifted out the gravel and shaped something truly remarkable.”

Mark Wilson in 3:AM magazine

Ex Nihilo is like Genesis rewritten by God. Quite extraordinary ”

John Wakeman, editor of  The Shop magazine.

Ex Nihilo, is a tour-de-force. Building on the ground of ‘The Icon Maker’, here a world of new beginning and becoming is imagined and its logics and incidentals pursued. It’s a poem about the act of creation, and the poet’s rib is the Adamic starting point for a prolonged meditation on the genesis of art, creativity and poetic consciousness.”

Nigel Parke

“Ex Nihilo seems simply to be creating its own rules, its own concerns, its own self and selves, and is unlike anything in British poetry right now”. 

Andrew O’Donnell (The Fiend)

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