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The Ringmaster's Apprentice

by Oz Hardwick

‘Deep below, a rumble. Ignore it.’

Oz Hardwick's fifth collection of poetry – his first with Valley Press – begins with the poet on a ‘bland train’, staring at a fox emerging from the railside bush. The narrator declares that between himself, trapped in a mundane scene of everyday reality, and the fox, immersed in nature, mystery and myth, ‘hangs more poetry than I will ever write’.

He then sets out to write it anyway, to fill that gap; to explore the space between the familiar and domestic, the extraordinary and exotic. In bringing these seemingly irreconcilable worlds together, in a circus of language, ideas, music and images, Hardwick has created a singular literary experience that can be devoured quickly, but will stay with readers for a long time afterwards.

“The poetry is as good as it gets. It should be read by thousands ... tens of thousands.”
— Kevin Bailey, HQ Magazine

“These poems sizzle on the page, playful with sound, images and expectations. Always empathetic but never patronising, Oz Hardwick asks us to look harder at a world we think we know.”
— Sarah Salway

“Wonderful, provocative and memorable. From Liverpool in the 60s to the ringmaster’s apprentice, Hardwick presents an array of characters and events that stay with you long after reading. In his hands the everyday becomes something special, to be cherished.”
— Jim Bennett, Poetry Kit

“These poems are miraculous. Hardwick’s latest collection has everything I ask for in poetry: it is thoughtful, provocative and has a warm, unsentimental heart. Will it be among my favourite books of 2014? Undoubtedly.”
— James Nash


Oz Hardwick was born in Plymouth, 1960. He is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently The Ringmaster's Apprentice, published by Valley Press in October 2014. (For details of Oz's other collections, consult his own website here).

He is also a photographer and musician, and a professor of Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University. He lives in York.

Oz's website


Edition: Paperback

Date Published: 2014-10-31

ISBN: 9781908853431

Catalogue Number: VP0058

Number of Pages: 54

Cover design by Jamie McGarry

Cover photograph by the author

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