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.

Thursday, 5 December 2002

"Oxford Poets 2002: An Anthology" by Constantine, Lee and O'Donogue (eds) (Carcanet, 2002)

Few poets are worth a book, so the idea of stringing together some pamphlet-length contributions makes sense. This is the 3rd in this series (Carcarnet also have a "New Poetries" series).

Roy Blackman and Stuart Henson are too anecdotal for me. Richard Meier has his moments, though too few of them poetic. Sasha Dugdale is reliable. Hugh McMillan is good most of the time, but it's barely poetry even when he uses a form ("Wildlife" is prose, and "Marked" would be just as funny in prose). Anne Berkeley's able to write accessible poems that merit rereading. 'River' describes a man or a river - Sometimes he'll bring you a surprise: fish,/ a little canoe, a dragonfly. He keeps/ a kingfisher up his sleeve for nostalgia./ Sometimes there'll be algae for days./ He says nothing about the drowned kittens. Her poems are never less than tidy. Kapos is more ambitious than Berkeley. 'The Night Kitchen' begins Outside extinct stars hang/ like scrunched-up letters thrown/ around the floor. They're the best two poets in the book, but Kapos' "The Night Kitchen" and "An Angel Entered the Picture" give her the edge.

For once in an anthology my ratings correspond with the amount of space given to each poet and to their track record.

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