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Glyn Maxwell, How the Hell Are You – review

One obvious contrast between Hewitt and Maxwell is in their handling of personal life. However true or fictionalised they actually are, the autobiographical poems in Tongues of Fire seem extremely frank and direct in their revelations. Avowedly personal poems in How the Hell Are You are reserved and oblique, like ‘Daylight Saving’, an elegy for Maxwell’s father. This implies the poet’s continuing feeling of closeness to his dead father by imagining a meeting “in one of the fora / we wander together, / neither one literally here” to discuss the possible abolition of daylight saving. There are rather generically … Continue Reading

Pluto by Glyn Maxwell. Picador Poetry, 64 pp., £9.99

Maxwell is a dedicated formalist like Polley, and shares his strong sense of time’s attrition.

One poem on this theme struck me as pretty well perfect, so graceful  in expression, so complex and delicate in feeling that I’m afraid to bruise it by analysis:


It has asked to be treated like all the other days.
Not to be beamed at in assembly,
winked at, singled out for praise,
parted for or crowded round, not to be
starred or handed a badge or in obvious ways

made something of. In no uncertain terms
did it say no gifts, no cake, no … Continue Reading