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Review – Anna Wigley, Ghosts

Ghosts by Anna Wigley. Gomer Press, Llandysul, Ceredigion SA44 4JL. 66 pp. £9.99

In its strengths and limitations, Ghosts is at an opposite pole to Pilgrim Tongues and in some ways much more like The Silvering. Instead of dispersal we have a careful concentration of poetic resources. Whether they’re about animals or paintings, the earlier lives of the poet’s parents, the vitality and promise of the young or the illness and death of the old, these poems are exquisitely attuned to the senses, and Wigley has a particular talent for capturing living creatures in movement. However, where The Silvering … Continue Reading

Review – Pilgrim Tongues by Cliff Forshaw

Pilgrim Tongues by Cliff Forshaw, Wrecking Ball Press, Office 9, Danish Buildings, 44 – 46 High Street, Hull, East Yorks, HU1 1PS. 124 pp. £8.95.

Where Maura Dooley’s poetry is all laser-like concentration, Forshaw strides round the world, taking it on with drive, intelligence and humanity, scattering memorable phrases and ideas as he goes, but in a way that to my mind disperses rather than concentrating the energies of his writing. A number of poems in the first two sections, travelling from Hull through Cambodia, Vietnam and Israel, seemed closer to skilfully versified travelogue or foreign correspondent’s report than to … Continue Reading

Peter Hainsworth and David Robey, Dante: A Very Short Introduction – review

Peter Hainsworth and David Robey, Dante: A Very Short Introduction; OUP, £7.99, pbk, 144pp.

Hainsworth and Robey have to work within the limits of the Very Brief Introduction format. Their first pages rise brilliantly to the challenge. Swift-moving, decisive, sensitive and suggestive, plunging straight into a discussion of two famous encounters in the Inferno, and illustrating points with well-chosen references, this opening would have made me feel I knew why Dante’s ideas still matter, why he’s a giant among poets, and why people so praise his dramatic gifts in particular, even if I hadn’t read a word of him before.

Of course … Continue Reading

Prue Shaw, Reading Dante: From Here to Eternity – review

Prue Shaw, Reading Dante: From Here to Eternity; W. W. Norton, 398pp, hbk, £20.00;
ISBN 9780871407429
Published 29 April 2014

If I could recommend only one book on Dante it would be this one by Prue Shaw.

Her scholarship is profound and I think she must be a brilliant teacher: she shows an unusual ability to enter imaginatively into the minds of people who don’t have her knowledge. This book isn’t just “approachable”; it comes to meet you, seizes your hands and whisks you away to a glittering party where you’re involved in the conversation as if you were an old friend.

Shaw’s writing style … Continue Reading

Review – The Silvering by Maura Dooley

Bloodaxe Books, 64pp, £9.95.

Many poems in The Silvering reward repeated reading. I think two are brief masterpieces: “Sendai, City of Trees” and “Keen as are the arrows”. I’ll quote the first whole. I should say that Sendai, from which the boy has come, suffered catastrophic damage from a tsunami in 2011:

He turns the small corner of paper
over and in, in again and smaller.
A Christmas guest, far from home, entertaining
our small girl and thinking of his baby brother
as he folds and folds.
……………………………..When we see him next
his pale, sad, face will fill the screen, his English,
Best-in-Town, will speak … Continue Reading