The Perseverance

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Featured on NPR’s Morning Edition

A Best Book of the Year at The Guardian, The Sunday Times, Poetry School, New York Public Library, and Entropy Magazine

Winner of the Ted Hughes Award, Rathbones Folio Prize, and Somerset Maugham Award; finalist for the Griffin Poetry Prize and Reading the West Book Award

In the wake of his father’s death, the speaker in Raymond Antrobus’ The Perseverance travels to Barcelona. In Gaudi’s Cathedral, he meditates on the idea of silence and sound, wondering whether acoustics really can bring us closer to God. Receiving information through his hearing aid technology, he considers how deaf people are included in this idea. “Even though,” he says, “I have not heard / the golden decibel of angels, / I have been living in a noiseless / palace where the doorbell is pulsating / light and I am able to answer.”

The Perseverance is a collection of poems examining a d/Deaf experience alongside meditations on loss, grief, education, and language, both spoken and signed. It is a book about communication and connection, about cultural inheritance, about identity in a hearing world that takes everything for granted, about the dangers we may find (both individually and as a society) if we fail to understand each other.


  • Intimate and searching.

    —The New York Times Book Review

  • Raymond Antrobus’s compelling debut, The Perseverance, confronts deeply rooted prejudice against deaf people.

    —The Guardian

  • Remarkable. Antrobus, who was born deaf, writes about grief, race and violence in lines that are startlingly immediate and provocative.

    —The Washington Post

  • The Perseverance relates Antrobus’s experiences of being biracial and d/Deaf in sharp and beautiful poems. . . . These poems are expressive and beautiful and will leave readers thinking differently about sound and silence.


  • Stunning.

    —New York Public Library

  • Antrobus can be gentle, tactile, and pointed in this book—which collects into an affirmation, a pronouncement.

    —The Millions

  • Outstanding.

    —Chicago Review of Books

  • Emotionally textured and sonically charged. . . . the poem [‘Sound Machine’] gyrates through interrogations of grief and ancestry twinned with a brooded meditation on masculinity and selfhood.

    —Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

  • This book is a gift, for how it repurposes my understanding of treacherous feelings, and shapes them into something worth sticking around for.

    —Hanif Abdurraqib, author of A Fortune For Your Disaster

  • The Perseverance is an insightful, frank and intimate rumination on language, identity, heritage, loss and the art of communication. . . . These are courageous autobiographical poems of praise, difficulties, testimony and love.

    —Malika Booker, author of Pepper Seed

  • Honest, raw and striking…. Antrobus captures the feeling of isolation that comes with navigating a world not made for everyone who exists within it.

    —Arkansas International

  • Clear, unflinching. . . . We expand our comprehension of humanness in encountering these poems, and recognize the limits of language that is only spoken and heard—The Perseverance is language embodied and utterly present.

    —Orion Magazine, Khadijah Queen Recommends

  • An extraordinary debut.

    —Entropy Magazine

  • An affecting, accessible, and astonishingly raw collection of poems.

    —October Hill Magazine

  • A memorable collection . . . Antrobus interlaces wit and pathos as he examines his identity as a deaf British Jamaican man in a world between sign language and speech.

    —The Sunday Times

  • Insightful.

    —Cool Hunting

  • A poet who traverses a diversity of worlds.


  • At every turn, Antrobus pushes back against flattening, against the tidy narrative—an invidious Ted Hughes poem gets radically revised, an aunt’s misheard utterance becomes ‘a faint fog horn, a lost river.’ It’s magic, the way this poet is able to bring together so much—deafness, race, masculinity, a mother’s dementia, a father’s demise—with such dexterity.

    —Kaveh Akbar

  • It channels Danez Smith, Malika Booker and Caroline Bird, in formal poems, erasures, free verse, innovative use of Makaton symbols, translation, prose, and a blackout version of Ted Hughes’ ‘Deaf School’; probably the best poem I read all year, and it doesn’t even have any words in it.

    —Will Barrett, Poetry School

  • Antrobus’s evocative, musical honesty is unforgettable.

    —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

  • Innovative and urgent. . . . Deserves a wide readership.