* You are viewing the archive for March, 2021

Sean Borodale, Intimates – review

All the poems in Sean Borodale’s Intimates are about insects and, according to the cover blurb, all those described are found in and around the author’s house. Within this narrow, familiar space he sees a fabulously varied strangeness. Written with skill, originality and imaginative dedication by an author praised to the skies by eminent judges, it’s a book I expected to find compelling, as many people surely will. However, I personally read it with more respect than warmth or involvement.

Though they’re written in a highly wrought, bardic style and at a high pitch of intensity, I found most of the … Continue Reading

David Constantine, Belongings – review

If Glenday’s Selected Poems persistently look inwards, those of David Constantine’s Belongings are focused outwards, on the world around the poet. A short review can’t do justice to their range, seriousness, individuality or challenge. They pay extremely close attention to what in ‘Maps’ Constantine calls ‘the holy particulars’: individual people, animals, trees and events at specific times and in specific places. This is where he finds the solidity and significance he describes as ‘presence’. Sometimes they involve large, easily recognizable social issues, but the focus is always on the concrete and particular, not the abstract and general. Wider connections … Continue Reading

John Glenday, Selected Poems – review

John  Glenday’s Selected Poems adds nine pieces to a selection of work from his five previous books. It’s a small output for the time he’s been writing but a very fine one.

The main features of his work have been clear from the beginning: avoidance of rhetoric, meticulous craftsmanship, love of balanced forms, and skill in combining musical qualities with a conversational style. These features are integrally related to the way the ‘I’ of the poems seems to think and feel. His voice is quiet and measured, though what he says can be startling or disturbing. Even when directly addressing the … Continue Reading