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by Sean Ashton

Strange yet truthful entries from a poetic encyclopaedia.

Sampler presents a selection of entries from an encyclopaedia written entirely by poets. The material, assembled by Sean Ashton into categories such as Fruit & Vegetables, Birdsong and Musical Instruments, offers insights into a range of themes: the precise timbre of a lapwing’s call, the heroic modesty of the double bass, the correct way to eat a peach. There are also answers to pertinent questions. What is it that makes hairdressers so special? Why is neon the noblest of gases? Could rugby be improved with the addition of a harpsichord?

In his capacity as chief editor, Ashton deploys poetry as an applied art, abandoning the lyric voice for a collective register. Somewhere between the private fancy of the individual and the strictures of the social is a forest of stranger truths. Few are stranger or more truthful than Sampler.

Click here to hear a reading from Sampler.


Sean Ashton grew up in Norfolk, studying sculpture at the Royal College of Art. He now lives in London, teaches on the Fine Art course at Leeds Beckett University, and writes regularly on visual art. He is the author of the novel Living in a Land, a memoir written in sentences constructed in the negative, described by Darian Leader as ‘the funniest, most enjoyable thing I’ve read in years’. His poems and short stories have appeared in Poetry London, Magma, Poetry Salzburg Review, Artenol, Oxford Poetry and the philosophy journal Collapse.

In 2020, he assembled Sampler, a selection of entries from an encyclopaedia written entirely by poets, which was published by Valley Press.


Edition: First

Date Published: 2020-09-30

ISBN: 9781912436392

Catalogue Number: VP0159

Number of Pages: 96

Cover design by Jamie McGarry

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