Featured Publication – A Census of Preconceptions by Oz Hardwick

Our featured publication for January and February is A Census of Preconceptions by Oz Hardwick, published by SurVision books.

A Census of Preconceptions is a dangerously witty and uncanny masterpiece. In subversive prose poems, Oz Hardwick creates extraordinary peregrinations into the neo-surreal and phantasmagoric, where TV networks hire owls instead of people, ‘graveyards are the new shopping malls’ and volcanoes are hidden inside houses. In this searing collection, Hardwick explores language’s possibilities in lyric gestures that repeatedly break free from lyric norms. He creates achingly wistful junctures where the reader edges into ‘the narrowing space between two bodies that, like magnets, push harder away the closer they approach’. This prose poetry transforms, reinvents and marvels – it speaks as much in its haunting gaps and silences as it does in its beguiling lexicon.” Cassandra Atherton

In this triumph of language and imagination, Oz Hardwick makes the impossible appear before your very eyes, with sleight of hand juxtapositions. He is a straight-talking storyteller, the lava lamp-bearing usher of troubling shadow theatres that have set themselves up in scuffed liminal spaces of a down-at-heel town. Go on, take the weight off your feet, here’s a brew, now let this book do its work. These poems are rare dazzling gifts – behold!” Helen Ivory

Humane, funny but hard-edged, A Census of Preconceptions filters memory and experience through a beautifully distorted stained-glass window: there’s a wink with the melancholy and a shiver of doubt to the resilience and joy. These are poetic reports from the field with points of reference at once familiar and strange. Hardwick makes the form his own here, and as in the best prose poetry there’s a deceptive ease to the voice: it welcomes you, sits you down and begins to speak, before shining a light right in your eye.” Luke Kennard



Not Fade Away

Epiphanies for All

Oz Hardwick is a European poet, photographer, occasional musician, and accidental academic, who has been described “as a “major proponent of the neo-surreal prose poem in Britain.” He has published “about a dozen” full collections and chapbooks, including Learning to Have Lost (Canberra: IPSI, 2018) which won the 2019 Rubery International Book Award for poetry, and most recently A Census of Preconceptions (SurVision Books, 2022). He has also edited or co-edited several anthologies, including The Valley Press Anthology of Prose Poetry (Scarborough: Valley Press, 2019) with Anne Caldwell. Oz has held residencies in the UK, Europe, the US and Australia, and has performed internationally at major festivals and intimate soirees. In 2022, he was awarded the ARC Poetry Prize for “a lifetime devotion and service to the cause of prose poetry,” though he is quick to point out that he’s not dead yet. Oz is Professor of Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University. 

Copies of A Census of Preconceptions are available to purchase from the Survision website, or directly from Oz.


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