* You are viewing the archive for September, 2021

Tishani Doshi, A God at the Door – review

‘Exuberance is beauty’, said William Blake, and ‘Energy is eternal delight.’ Read rapidly, Tishani Doshi’s A God at the Door is an exhilarating treat. Easily straddling the author’s Eastern and Western heritages and high and low cultures, its breadth of reference is unusual in itself, but what’s truly remarkable is the agility with which Doshi dances between different poles.  However, individual poems don’t invite the sustained lingering over that many in her previous book Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods do. In the end, it comes down to the kind of reading that means most to the individual … Continue Reading

Annie Freud, Hiddensee – review

Freighted with heavyweight literary, philosophical and artistic allusions, Annie Freud’s Hiddensee is very much an intellectual’s book and a work of rare intellectual range. The internationalism of Freud’s mind is suggested by the way Hiddensee includes not only the original texts of poems by the French Swiss poet Jacques Tornay, faced by Freud’s translations into English, but also a number of her own original poems in French and a poem in Italian (also translated into English) that seems to be hers too. Given talent and intelligence of her own, such high-powered internationalism of outlook is perhaps to be expected of … Continue Reading

Michael Vince, Long Distance – review

Michael Vince’s Long Distance is haunted by a sense of how old things live on in the present and the traces of dead things linger. This is particularly true in the first and third sections, set in England. Perhaps surprisingly, the second section, set in Greece, focuses mainly on what seems to be a single personal relationship in the present of the poems, and the fourth on glimpses of contemporary life, sometimes in England, sometimes in Greece.

‘What seems to be a single personal relationship.’ Vince appears committed to the idea that poetry should present itself objectively, however personal and subjective … Continue Reading

Fleur Adcock, The Mermaid’s Purse – review

Fleur Adcock, The Mermaid’s Purse, 80pp, £10.99, Bloodaxe Books Ltd

Fleur Adcock published her first collection in 1964 and has been honing her skills ever since. Her style has always been conversational but the voice of her poems has become ever suppler, more charged and agile. The poems of The Mermaid’s Purse combine radiantly evocative description with the relaxed rhythms of natural speech, changing tone and perspective rapidly to give the impression of a quick-minded person thinking as she speaks. The first stanza of ‘Island Bay’ is one example:

Bright specks of neverlastingness
float at me out of the blue air,
perhaps … Continue Reading

Carol Ann Duffy (ed) Empy Nest: Poems for Families – review

Empty Nest is perhaps a misleading title for Carol Ann Duffy’s wide-ranging little anthology because it suggests a strong emphasis on the sadder side of children’s growing up. The book does of course include poems poignantly expressing parents’ feelings of emptiness after their children’s departure, including the haunting title piece by the editor herself. Looking at flight from the nest from the opposite point of view, it includes others expressing children’s frustration with parents or home, their desire to escape into a wider world, or their nostalgia for what they’ve left behind. Thankfully, though, it also ranges much more widely. … Continue Reading