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, 23 July 2016

"Ancestral Haunt" by Glen Cavaliero (Poetry Salzburg, 2002)

Selected Poems, with a useful introduction by D.M. de Silva. The poems are from The Rialto, Stand, the Cambridge University's Po-Soc magazine "Virtue without Terror", etc. He's also appeared in the TLS and the New Yorker! I can't get into his style though. All the pieces are sonnet-length or longer, many being more than a page.

I'm puzzled by the indentation and content at the start of "Ha-Ha"

     The Archduke has laid his lap dogs in the grave.
          There's a fine how-do-you-do
     underneath the terrace where a sundial moved
     last night, backwards. Now the new giant housemaid
     has spread the heat out upon the lawns to dry.
See how it steams: the children are quite lost in it.

"On Parade" starts with

No stone to mark the spot: it's an entry in a register
    secures them, hooked to the generating tree
by a legislated testament. A plot of grass, a space
    assured between the shouldering monuments
and obelisks and exhortatory angels that commemorate
    the much-loved fathers, sleeping children, wives
and devoted husbands who have gone before

I don't see the point of that first sentence's wordiness, and the list later in the extract goes on for too long. He has a weakness for twisting idioms. For example, "Foremothers" ends with

Madame Cain (Jill the Ripper to friends)
in Eve's place now, ponders her men,
knows herself matchless, with no bridges burned.

Too much seems gratuitously flowery. On "Fox Earth" "Outside, the gloom's now absolute: grief-offerings/ are brought for you to fold them/ in your ironic nothingness". I prefer the later pieces, where the floweriness is more functional - "Tethered to its nest by a cord of song, the lark still flowers" ("An Encounter"). I liked "A Green Grave" and "The Hope Stone".

The book was reviewed by Peter Scupham in PN Review back in 2002 ("formally adroit, various in tone"), and by Glyn Pursglove in Acumen ("shrewd in his observation of human nature (not least his own), attentive to that mood of place which is generated by the simultaneous presence of past and present and technically assured in his articulation of relatively fugitive emotions and sensations") - see

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