'One of the most eloquent thinkers about our life in language' The Sunday Times
Time Lived, Without Its Flow is a beautiful, unflinching essay on the nature of grief from critically acclaimed poet Denise Riley. From the horrific experience of maternal grief Riley wrote her celebrated collection Say Something Back, a modern classic of British poetry. This essay is a companion piece to that work, looking at the way time stops when we lose someone suddenly from our lives.
The first half is formed of diary-like entries written by Riley after the news of her son’s death, the entries building to paint a live portrait of loss. The second half is a ruminative post script written some years later with Riley looking back at the experience philosophically and attempting to map through it a literature of consolation. Written in precise and exacting prose, with remarkable insight and grace this book will form kind counsel to all those living on in the wake of grief. A modern-day counterpart to C. S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed.
Published widely for the first time since its original limited release, this revised edition features a special introduction by Max Porter, author of Grief is A Thing With Feathers.
'Her writing is perfectly weighted, justifies its existence' - Guardian
She’s a poet whose work . . . never fails to convince new readers with its intelligence, wit and emotion, The Times
A terrific talent. -- Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy
Her strengths are so varied: notice one quality you admire, and another follows hard behind. Riley is an enormously gifted writer. -- Fiona Sampson, Guardian
An astonishing, eloquent examination of grief, but also of stasis and disrupted time in the face of loss. This book contains far more depth and enlightenment than its slim volume suggests, as it contemplates and rages, moves and soothes. Magnificent. -- Sinéad Gleeson, author of Constellations
Riley, one of the most eloquent thinkers about our life in language, had long 'believed that thought is made in the mouth'. Suddenly, it is locked in . . . This almost unbearably crystalline essay, first published in 2012, recounts how death smashed her sense of how the world works., The Sunday Times
A precise and elegant exploration of what happens to time after a grievous loss. I felt a little wiser for having read it. -- Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of The Last Act of Love
A very short book about time and loss, living and telling, that immeasurably expanded my sense of each of those things. -- David Hayden, TLS
To those of us who feared words might not be enough, Time Lived, Without Its Flow delivers its kind riposte. A manifesto for the unbroken promise of language, for a literature of consolation, and above all for empathy, it is a book about listening closely (to oneself and others), a call to the radical, ordinary act of being with: to say with your whole heart, not ‘I can’t imagine what you’re feeling’,but ‘I can imagine’. -- Emily Berry, author of Dear Boy
Time Lived, Without Its Flow derives its immense power from its combination of emotional immediacy and intellectual rigour. To read it is to feel your heart breaking and your neurons firing at the same time. -- Mark O'Connell, author of To Be A Machine
A dark jewel of a book in which the mysterious reversals of a life-in-grief are laid bare in language that is both elegantly precise and courageously blunt. -- Katherine Towers, author of The Remedies
About the Author
Denise Riley is a critically acclaimed writer of both philosophy and poetry. She is currently Professor of the History of Ideas and of Poetry at UEA. Her visiting positions have included A.D. White Professor at Cornell University in the US, Writer in Residence at the Tate Gallery in London, and Visiting Fellow at Birkbeck College in the University of London. She has taught philosophy, art history, poetics, and creative writing. She is the author of Say Something Back and lives in London.