* You are viewing the archive for August, 2020

Mimi Khalvati, Afterwardness – review

Under her light touch, each of Mimi Khalvati’s 56 sonnets evolves in a spontaneous-seeming way, like something between intimate speech and thinking aloud. Within her favoured form – two quatrains rhyming on alternate lines followed by two triplets which rhyme in various ways across the triplet division – she makes skilful use of different kinds of half rhyme, so full rhyme comes and goes as if naturally, rather than being a formal given.

The arc of the book reflects the course of the poet’s own life, starting with her exile from Iran and family at six, the loss of her mother … Continue Reading

Katrina Porteous, Edge – review

Katrina Porteous’s Edge tries to digest the most abstruse science into poetic form.

I found it thrilling. There’s no self in it, and almost no people, but it doesn’t feel inhuman because Porteous uses different forms of personification so much. She opens with an account of the poems’ genesis and closes with scientific notes. These I sometimes found interesting, sometimes indigestible. The poems themselves are in three sections. ‘Field’ explores the quantum physics underlying all reality – science of a kind incomprehensible to most of us; ‘Sun’ meditates on our sun, and ‘Edge’ focuses on our own moon and some of … Continue Reading

Yorgos Theotokas, Leonis – novel and poem

I’ve recently reread Yorgos Theotokas’s Leonis for the first time in years. How odd it is as a novel, and at the same time, how compelling. Both the oddity and the power come from the book’s extreme compression, and from its being in some ways less like a novel than a long narrative poem in prose.

Sadly, it isn’t on the rather short list of modern Greek books that have gained currency in English, though I gather there is a translation. In brief outline, Leonis – the hero – starts as a little Greek boy in Istanbul or Constantinople – or … Continue Reading