When Corpus won the Whitbread Poetry Award, the judges described it as 'an outstanding, perfectly weighted collection that inspires meditation on the nature of the soul...reading it feels like making an exciting discovery and coming back to an acknowledged classic all at once.' Michael Symmons Roberts' first book, Soft Keys, was the original and most exciting discovery of all.
The poems in Soft Keys engage in a search for meaning and order in the everyday and in the extraordinary - a locust officer tracking swarms in an African desert, a hobbyist building a replica of the world out of matchsticks, a chance encounter with the French mystic Simone Weil playing video games in a Torquay arcade... Richly inventive, and written in a wide diversity of poetic forms, Soft Keys looks for those places and moments where the curtain between earth and heaven is thinnest; it was a powerful, arresting debut and the beginning of a remarkable career.
As Les Murray said at the time: 'Like Nijinsky, he can leap into the air and stay there. You can reach up and feel the thump of the stage finely persisting in an ankle bone. Roberts is a poet for the new, chastened, unenforcing age of faith that has just dawned.'