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.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

"The Poetry Review 105.3 (Autumn 2015)" by Maurice Riordan (ed)

Over 130 pages, about a third of them devoted to poems, in a magazine that now refers to itself as "TPR". I liked Longley's more than I usually do, and Liardet's. I've not heard of James Giddings. I liked his too. Helen Mort's "Ablation" and Simon Richey's "Still Life with Words" seem too minor. Ruby Robinson's was 7 pages - I gave up well before the end.

Mark Waldron writes "Often, for me, a single phrase can be so arresting that even if everything else in the poem is dull, I'll forgive it". I know the feeling. Jemmy Borg's "Quickening" has its moments - "My son in his ancient world is swallowing dreams". But for me there's also the converse. In an article where I have to take things on trust, a passage like "These poems speak in a voice of resonant mystery, detached yet tender" or "A plangent lyricism drives an implicit narrative of emotional complexity" can make me suspicious. My confidence is restored elsewhere -

  • "Such restraint in the face of such subject matter is at the opposite pole from that sensationalism without substance one can find in Underwood" (William Wootten)
  • "There is not a single poem collected here that does not whiff of the grad seminar room, where Prof Doty pauses proceedings to drift down yet another self-tickled semantic scenic route. ... Simply alluding to illustrious antecedents at every available juncture does not make you of their company" (Conor O'Callaghan)
  • "However well these poems work on their own terms, I'm not struck by anything particularly original in their language, form or subject matter; or attracted by their tone or type of discourse, though that is partly a matter of taste. There's usually little left for the reader to imagine" (Fiona Moore on Annie Freud)

"Letter from Canada" seems misplaced in a journal like this one. The other articles and reviews are helpful, tempting me to add more books to my reading list. Less than a page of bios (in contrast, the latest Poetry Salzburg has 9 pages).

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