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

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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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