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Sophie Hannah: 'It's surprising how many poems turn out to be about sex'

The crime writer and poet on contrasting literary disciplines, the poetry of sex and the genius of Agatha Christie

Sophie Hannah's talents are unusual: she is a bestselling crime writer (author of nine novels) and prize-winning poet (her fifth collection, Pessimism for Beginners, was shortlisted for the TS Eliot award). Her poetry is studied by GCSE, A-level and university students. And all her writing is characterised by a zestful intelligence. Her new crime novel The Telling Error explores the psychology of an erring middle-class mother without diluting a bold plot about the stabbing of a newspaper columnist. It is a novel in which hi-tech and low behaviour collide. She has also just edited The Poetry of Sex for Penguin  the sort of idea that, in the wrong hands, could be a fiasco; with Hannah at the helm, it's a triumph.

How far apart are crime writing and poetry?

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