This collection places Langford’s work in a substantially new light – judicious, and in some cases significantly rewritten selections from his previous five books as well as a book-length selection of new poems make the case for a major poet in mid-career. The Human Project gives readers an opportunity to follow the trajectory of Langford’s poetry, which considers our experience in the face of what he sees as the hierarchical instinct of our biological inheritance. As well as meditations on the strangeness and fragility of the idea of the human, there are poems on the environment, on literature, and on contemporary Australian life.
“At a time when poetry too often seems uninterested in hard truths, Langford is not afraid to confront the everyday evils of “the human project.” Here is a book with the courage of its convictions, and here is a poet who convinces us that poetry matters.” — Peter Kirkpatrick
“Langford’s is a restless, humane imagination, thinking furiously, especially at the edges. These sharpnesses constitute the ars poetica of not being scared. There is, after all, plenty that is terrifying in the world: cruelties and vanishings of both people and animals, of the whole natural world. It requires a keen poetic conscience allied with an equally keen ear to register this and give shape to it. That is what these poems do. It is exactly as it says on the label: The Human Project.” — George Szirtes
“These lyrical, enigmatic poems celebrate the urban and rural with a fierce eye for detail and a marvellous ear. Whether using the registers and tonalities of colloquial speech or a deeply nuanced, strange music, past and present, private and public, are given new life, offering us other ways of seeing and hearing.” — Anthony Lawrence
“The poems are uncomfortable at times – perhaps necessarily. But they put forward what amounts to a poetic worldview with complete commitment at every level – moral, intellectual, emotional, linguistic – and the result is undeniable authority.” — Susan Wicks
As the title of Langford’s collection suggests, he is interested in the big picture. One way or another, all poetry is about the human condition, but Langford approaches the matter in the broadest possible sense, ranging across the atrocities of war, social injustice and environmental degradation. His poems are mostly short, even terse, usually unembellished by figurative language and written in free verse.”
ANDREW SANT, Australian Book Review