Telling Tales

Patience Agbabi

Tabard Inn to Canterbury Cathedral, Poet pilgrims competing for free picks, Chaucer Tales, track by track, it's the remix and we're keeping it real, reminisce this: Chaucer Tales were an unfinished business.
Telling Tales by Patience Agbabi (Paperback ISBN 9781782111573) book cover

Available as Paperback, eBook

A brilliant re-interpretation of The Canterbury Tales for the 21st century, from one of the UK’s foremost poets

SHORTLISTED FOR THE TED HUGHES PRIZE 2015

Tabard Inn to Canterb’ry Cathedral,
Poet pilgrims competing for free picks,
Chaucer Tales, track by track, it’s the remix
From below-the-belt base to the topnotch;
I won’t stop all the clocks with a stopwatch
when the tales overrun, run offensive,
or run clean out of steam, they’re authentic
and we’re keeping it real, reminisce this:
Chaucer Tales were an unfinished business.


In Telling Tales award-winning poet Patience Agbabi presents an inspired 21st-Century remix of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales retelling all of the stories, from the Miller’s Tale to the Wife of Bath’s in her own critically acclaimed poetic style.

Celebrating Chaucer’s Middle-English masterwork for its performance element as well as its poetry and pilgrims, Agbabi’s newest collection is utterly unique. Boisterous, funky, foul-mouthed, sublimely lyrical and bursting at the seams, Telling Tales takes one of Britain’s most significant works of literature and gives it thrilling new life.


“The liveliest versions of Chaucer you’re likely to read - every page a virtuoso performance of language, character and story”
Simon Armitage

See more reviews

“The language is every bit as Chaucerian as Chaucer - ripe, rollicking and humorous - and Agbabi’s redesigned pilgrims are as much a mixed bag as the originals”
the Times

“Inventive, innovative and ingenious - Agbabi’s take on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales zooms right into the 21st Century”
Jackie Kay

“Her poems draw on rap, jive and disco rhythms as much as the formal subtleties of free verse. Agbabi is a fine poet, and her linguistic wit carries satirical fire”
daily Telegraph

“Anyone giving a poetic echo to The Canterbury Tales needs exceptional imagination, human warmth and rhythmical energy; without them, the echo is doomed to fade. But Patience Agbabi has all these things and more: a completely appropriate sense of variety, fun, seriousness and good humour. Stirred all together, they make Telling Tales a compelling collection of story-portraits, at once contemporary and time-honoured. It’s a wonderful achievement”
Andrew Motion


Patience Agbabi

Patience Agbabi was born in London in 1965 and educated at Oxford and Sussex Universities. She has performed her poetry live, on TV and radio all over the world. Her work has also appeared on the London Underground and human skin. She has lectured in Creative Writing at several UK universities, including Greenwich, Cardiff and Kent, and is currently Fellow in Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes University. She was Canterbury Laureate from 2009 to 2010. Telling Tales is her fourth poetry collection. She lives in Kent with her husband and two children.