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Jane Yeh, The Ninjas; Carcanet Press, £9.95

It’s sometimes said of poems inspired by paintings that they seem too dependent on the knowledge of something very specific outside them to stand on their own feet. Nothing could be less true of a poem like Yeh’s “The Wyndham Sisters (after Sargent)”. It begins:

Their satin shapes foretell an ambassador’s ball,
The fourth this season – such a dreadful bore. The long

Hand of evening comes forward as if to enfold them
Before the gas lamps go on. In the half-light their bodices

Softly glow, wrapped in oyster and ivory
Like expensive presents.

The sheer sensuous vividness of the writing … Continue Reading