Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Saturday, 18 December 1999

"Samarkand" by Kate Clanchy (Picador, 1999)

There are

  • short poems ("The Invisible Man", etc)
  • medium poems that take a simile and pad out the vehicle and tenor ("War Poetry", etc), or pad out another simple structure ("To a Lawyer", "The Rich"). Few of these are successful: some are weak.
  • long poems which begin mundanely then take off two-thirds of the way through with varying success ("Record Low", etc)
  • some "so what" poems of various lengths (especially at the start of "The NewHome cabaret" section). "Content" sounds like extracts from a short story summary, the final lines quoting those of the story.

Scattered amongst these are better pieces. They tend to be about a page long - she needs a long runway. There's a whole US magazine devoted to angel poetry, so I doubt whether the subject matter of "With Angels" is new. "The Acolyte" and "Conquest" both deal with idealised relationships using extended metaphors with greater success than usual. The poetry worth buying works out to about 70p a page. The book may indeed be "both a darker and a more sunlit collection than its predecessor", but I don't think it's as good. If she started writing short stories I fear her poetry production might cease.

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