Sweet Nothings is about absences, how they tempt us, and sometimes what they make us do. An absence is a conjuration, not palpably present in longing, imagination or dream. We are lured on by absences, and how they call to us, in Thomas Hardy’s memorable phrase. The poems sometimes come in sequences; always they are in dialogue with one another, responding, echoing – within and between the book’s two sections. At times, the leitmotifs are apparently personal, exploring divisions and painful losses. But we also encounter the largely invented academic Dr Bob Pintle, promoted at work since his cameo in Waterman’s previous book, an anti-hero of the modern university system. In this book we also find the zero football score, the zero scores in life’s more significant conflicts, and an obverse: the desire to settle at nothing, or for nothing less than what life might offer. Sweet Nothings is in fact a book of hopes and passions – quiet and lyrical at times, but also fiercely witty and bold.