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Showing posts from August, 2022

Review - "Neo-Bedrooms" by Deborah Meadows

Martin Stannard “Neo-Bedrooms” by Deborah Meadows, pub. Shearsman. 88pp. £10.95/$18.00 There are a couple of reasons one might be forgiven for thinking, before actually reading it, about chucking this book on the steadily-increasing pile of poetry that, if I had an open fire, might help offset the coming winter’s energy bills. The first is that an early and very full “Acknowledgements” page announces that the poems “respond” a lot to other works probably most people will know nothing about. By which I mean: •    the title poem is, and I quote “in response to . . . an installation at SCI-Arc Gallery, Los Angeles, October 19 – December 9, 2018” •    “Office Hours” . . . “is in response to the group show, Office Hours . . .” •    “Taiga” (half a dozen pages in length) is “in response to Ulrike Ottinger’s 1992 eight-hour ethnographic film Taiga . . .” •    “Twelve Austin Stations” is “in dialog with Ellsworth Kelly’s twelve works in the building titled Austin .” •    The 25 parts (and pa

Review - The Selected Poems of Ian Davidson

Steve Spence “New and Selected Poems” by Ian Davidson, pub Shearsman, £10.95/$18.00 105pp. In ‘No go Areas’ from the final section of this book, ‘Partly in Riga’ we have a voice reflecting upon the difficulty of sustaining a political position in the face of change and overwhelming complexity. It’s an argument with the self, a dialectical inner monologue attempting to reach compromise, perhaps, a desire to avoid cynicism while facing up to hard factual realities:             Something more. Maybe the sound of revolution is the alloy           Wheels turning and the residual kindness of community.           Better the curled lip of those who never have all the fruit and           Veg they need or mothers fit to cook them than the overstuffed           Vitamin laden smoothies laced with condescension.           Within the nominal optimism of Chavez lies the word Chav.             That bunch of middle class kids called new labour are little threat           To the

Review - The Collected Poems of Peter Finch

 Steven Waling “Collected Poems, Volumes 1 & 2” by Peter Finch, pub. Seren Books. £15.00 each. A typical Finch poem is… er no that doesn’t sound quite right… Throughout this collection Finch… no, that doesn’t seem right either… Generally, Finch’s poems are characterised by… Nope. That doesn’t get us anywhere… Look, the thing about Peter Finch’s poems is that there is no such thing as a typical Finch poem. Well, that’s better, but it really doesn’t cut the mustard either. One stream of Finch’s poetry over the years is the visual poetry, featured largely in the first volume but a continuing interest throughout his writing career. Another is what one might call process poetry, where one sets up a way of generating poetic material and then manipulate it through a deliberate or chance generated technique.  Take, for instance, which starts out with a familiar line from an R S Thomas poem: “Just an ordinary man of the bald Welsh hills,” becomes a list of phrases around the theme of hills,

Review - "The Trusty Servant" by Andrew Jordan

 Steve Spence “The Trusty Servant” by Andrew Jordan, pub. Shearsman Books. 70pp. £12.95 The starting point for this intriguing new collection from Andrew Jordan seems to be the long, chapter-length review of Jordan’s last book Hegemonick , by Andrew Duncan in A Poetry Boom 1990-2010.   Despite Duncan’s dismissal of Jordan’s work – ‘No one is more malcontent than Jordan….’ the fact that he needed to expend so much energy in making his point might suggest that he takes him more seriously than might be apparent from the concluding paragraphs of the review. Jordan has quoted eight lines of Duncan’s review on the back cover of The Trusty Servant where it’s sandwiched between two paragraphs of Jordan’s own prose, a lightly coated defence of his own work which manages to be both oblique and suggestive while hinting at both tradition and the future in terms of both a political outlook and the function of poetry. The Trusty Servant is both a poem translated from the Latin and a wall paintin