Books
The Manchester Review

Caroline Bird, In These Days of Prohibition (Carcanet, 2017), reviewed by Annie Muir

Caroline Bird – In These Days of Prohibition (Carcanet, 2017), reviewed by Annie Muir In These Days of Prohibition, Caroline Bird’s fifth collection with Carcanet, is full of poems that are almost always surreal, often funny, and sometimes profoundly shocking. The book has three sections, each with its own epigraph. It begins with a quote from John […]

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The Manchester Review

Elaine Cosgrove, Transmissions, reviewed by Sahar Abbas

Elaine Cosgrove, Transmissions (Dedalus, £10.00). Elaine Cosgrove’s debut collection of poems, Transmissions, is inviting and full of intrigue. Touching on the front cover of her collection, it is natural that Cosgrove’s first poem begins with an image of cities and a Motorway, as her cover paints quite the abstract picture of a night skyline.‘We pass / […]

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The Manchester Review

James Womack, On Trust: A Book of Lies, reviewed by Chad Campbell

James Womack, On Trust: A Book of Lies (Carcanet, £9.99). On Trust: A Book of Lies goes out of its way – on the jackets, author biography, and notes – to tell you that none of the book’s contents are true. Or, as the Colonel in the epigraph says, may “not have happened quite this […]

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The Manchester Review

Joanna Walsh, Worlds from the Word’s End reviewed by Nell Osborne

Joanna Walsh, Worlds from the Word’s End (And Other Stories, £8.99). With a relatively small output, Joanna Walsh has carved herself a place as one of the UK’s most innovative and influential writers. Her fans include writers such as Chris Kraus and Deborah Levy. She is also prescient cultural critic. She edits 3:AM magazine and […]

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The Manchester Review

Manchester Literature Festival: Jon McGregor at The International Anthony Burgess Foundation, reviewed by Tessa Harris

Jon McGregor, Reservoir 13; The International Anthony Burgess Foundation, 7 October 2017. “One of the things for me, about this book,” Jon McGregor explains before he starts the performance “is not to explain things…to people.” He doesn’t get the laugh he deserves. The audience is mostly anxiously clutching smartphones and muttering things like I don’t […]

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The Manchester Review

Stephen Romer, Set Thy Love In Order: New & Selected Poems, reviewed by Chad Campbell

Stephen Romer, Set Thy Love In Order: New & Selected Poems, (Carcanet, £12.99). Is Steve Romer a love poet? How much did his move from England to France in the eighties influence his style? If we’re to take him at his word, he doesn’t “feel part of any French tradition, except perhaps an earlier one…that […]

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Ian Pople

Bill Knott, I Am Flying Into Myself: Selected Poems 1960-2014, reviewed by Ian Pople

Bill Knott, I Am Flying Into Myself: Selected Poems 1960-2014, edited with an introduction by Thomas Lux (Farar, Straus and Giroux, $28.00). In his introduction to Bill Knott’s Selected, Thomas Lux comments that Knott’s first book, Nights of Naomi was ‘straight from the surrealist manifestos, but entirely his own. The poems are violent, dark and […]

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Ian Pople

Robert Lowell, New Selected Poems, reviewed by Ian Pople

Robert Lowell, New Selected Poems, ed. Katie Peterson (Faber, £14.99). If you came to poetry in the sixties and seventies, you came to Robert Lowell. His volume, Life Studies, seemed to dominate the perspective on poetry, in the way that The Whitsun Weddings, Crow or Ariel did, in their own way. One way in which […]

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The Manchester Review

Sarah Tierney, Making Space, reviewed by Tom Patterson

Sarah Tierney, Making Space (Sandstone, £8.99). Making Space is a strong debut novel from University of Manchester alumnus Sarah Tierney. It features Manchester’s Northern Quarter bars, rainy streets and converted Victorian housing in a way that moves beyond signposting without simply being a love letter to a time and a place. It was very easy […]

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Ian Pople

Ian Parks, Citizens, reviewed by Ian Pople

Ian Parks, Citizens (Smokestack Books, £7.99). Over the years, Ian Parks has produced about a dozen books and pamphlets, from a variety of publishers. His shtick seems to be to have a new book out with a new publisher. But that variety of publisher never seems to diminish or dilute the quality of Parks’ writing, […]

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The Manchester Review

Edward Doegar, For Now and Rebecca Tamás, Savage (Clinic Press), reviewed by Annie Muir

Two strikingly presented new pamphlets have been published by Clinic this year – Edward Doegar’s For Now with its bold misaligned capitals and Rebecca Tamás’s Savage with its inverted abstract countryside scene. Fifteen and nine poems respectively, both offer a one-sitting-sized taste of their author’s main concerns. Doegar’s first poem ‘Anon’ begins: I don’t want […]

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The Manchester Review

Tara Bergin, The Tragic Death of Eleanor Marx, reviewed by Chloé S. Vaughan

Tara Bergin, The Tragic Death of Eleanor Marx (Carcanet Press, £9.99). It’s been four years since Tara Bergin’s debut collection This is Yarrow hit shelves and deservedly snagged both the 2014 Seamus Heaney Award and 2014 Shine/Strong Poetry Award. In this brief absence, Bergin has not merely been looking out of her office window for […]

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The Manchester Review

Three pamphlets, reviewed by Ian Pople

Julie Mellor, Out of the Weather (Smith Doorstep, £5.00); Nigel Pantling, Kingdom Power Glory (Smith Doorstop, £9.95); Nicki Heinen, Itch (Eyewear Lorgnette Series, £6.00). In Julie Mellor’s poem ‘Propolis’, she writes ‘In truth, it’s not propolis I’m talking about,/ but those unwanted spaces where words land and rest’. There’s an interesting mixing of metaphor here. […]

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The Manchester Review

Penelope Shuttle, Will you walk a little faster?, reviewed by Ken Evans

Penelope Shuttle, Will you walk a little faster? (Bloodaxe Books, £9.95). The eponymous title poem of Penelope Shuttle’s latest collection, Will you walk a little faster?, keen ‘Alice’ fans will know, is a line from ‘The Mock Turtle Song’ in Lewis Carroll’s, Alice in Wonderland. The minimalist simplicity of Shuttle’s form here, is not a […]

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The Manchester Review

Richard Barnett, Seahouses, reviewed by Ken Evans

Richard Barnett, Seahouses, (Valley Press, £7.99). Is it too fanciful to hope, that a cultural archaeologist, in six hundred years, might turn over in their hands, the delicate, beautiful rectangle of processed wood, print technology, and creative design, that is the small press poetry volume of today, and marvel? They would be right to marvel […]

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Ian Pople

Sheena Kalayil, The Bureau of Second Chances, reviewed by Ian Pople

Sheena Kalayil, The Bureau of Second Chances (Polygon, £8.99). The trope of the recently widowed man returning to the ‘mother’ land from another country might, in other hands, have seemed just that, a trope. The man who’s returned from time to time and built a house near to his home village, amid the land which […]

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Ian Pople

William Palmer, The Water Steps, reviewed by Ian Pople

William Palmer, The Water Steps (Rack Press, £9.95). There is a corner of English poetry which is forever Georgian. It traces its roots back to Edward Thomas and tends to go there directly; it does not pass Larkin and has a nodding genuflection to Yeats, but it goes straight to Thomas. This means that it […]

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Ian Pople

Mai Der Vang, Afterland, reviewed by Ian Pople

Mai Der Vang, Afterland, (Graywolf Press, $16.00). If the Hmong peoples of Laos have any presence on this side of the Atlantic, it may be in the unfortunate environment of Clint Eastwood’s film Gran Torino, described by Timeout as the ‘ultimate “get off my lawn” movie.’ In that film, Eastwood’s grouchy character forms a relationship […]

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The Manchester Review

Four pamphlets from If a Leaf Falls Press, reviewed by Lucy Burns

Sam Riviere has been producing a series of very limited edition pamphlets from his micro press, If a Leaf Falls Press, since 2015. 34 pamphlets have been published so far (though more are always being added to the list), with some first publications and work from poets you might not have heard of listed alongside […]

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Ian Pople

Nicholas Murray, A Dog’s Brexit, reviewed by Ian Pople

Nicholas Murray, A Dog’s Brexit (Melos Press, £5.00). Nicholas Murray’s ‘Get Real’ a verse satire on the coalition government was published in his fine book Acapulco, also from William Palmer’s Melos Press. That poem used a modified Burns stanza to show just how hypocritical the coalition was; in all it’s fine rhetoric about balancing books […]

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The Manchester Review

The Golden Shovel Anthology: New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks, reviewed by Hannah Bressler

The Golden Shovel Anthology: New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks, edited by Peter Kahn, Ravi Shankar, Patricia Smith (University of Arkansas, £18.99). The ‘Golden Shovel’ form was created by Terrance Hayes to honour Gwendolyn Brooks. The rules are simple: 1. Borrow a line from a Gwendolyn Brooks poem, or another poem you admire 2. Use each […]

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Ian Pople

Jorie Graham, Fast, reviewed by Ian Pople

Jorie Graham, Fast, (Carcanet, £12.99). Much is made of Jorie Graham as a ‘phenomenologist’; ‘phenomenology’ being ‘the description of things as one experiences them, or of one’s experiences of things.’ Further distinctions follow, one of which is often the rejection of Descartes’ division of mind and body, and also the rejection of usual distinction of […]

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The Manchester Review

Peter Robinson, Collected Poems 1976-2016, reviewed by Ian Pople

Peter Robinson, Collected Poems 1976-2016 (Shearsman, £19.95). At the start of his preface to The Salt Companion to Peter Robinson, Roy Fisher writes, ‘It’s unusual in English poetry nowadays to find a writer of Peter Robinson’s sophistication occupying himself with what appears, at least, to be autobiography.’ And later, ‘Often the well placed ‘I’ is […]

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The Manchester Review

William Letford, Dirt, reviewed by Lucy Winrow

William Letford, Dirt (Carcanet, £9.99). As you might expect from the compact title of William Letford’s second collection, encounters with dirt are various and persistent throughout. In ‘Purification,’ we meet a hapless individual struggling to function after a night of heavy drinking: “crack open the eyes make fists with feet hangover check negative / stand […]

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The Manchester Review

Luke Wright, The Toll, reviewed by Chloé Vaughan

Luke Wright, The Toll (Penned in the Margins, £9.99). I don’t usually laugh when I read poetry. This is probably because I’m miserable and like to read morose poems. However, I genuinely laughed out loud on the bus when I was reading the ‘Essex Lion’ in Luke Wright’s poetry collection The Toll. This is a […]

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Ian Pople

Thomas Dilworth, David Jones: Engraver, Soldier, Painter, Poet, reviewed by Ian Pople

Thomas Dilworth, David Jones: Engraver, Soldier, Painter, Poet (Jonathan Cape, £25.00). When David Jones suggested that the engraver and painter Eric Gill had ‘a different kind of otherness’ he might quite easily have been writing about himself. As Thomas Dilworth’s subtitle suggests David Jones’ ‘otherness’ took many forms. Kenneth Clark called Jones the painter, ‘absolutely […]

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The Manchester Review

George Saunders, interviewed by James Reith

“This is going to sound very chichi,” Saunders begins, “but I’m at the Beverly Hilton in LA.” He’s trying to find a seat, poolside, away from other people, so that he can talk to me over the phone. With characteristic humour, he’s quick to downplay any notions of book-tour glamour: it’s “combination of joy and […]

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The Manchester Review

Emily Berry, Stranger, Baby, reviewed by Annie Muir

Emily Berry, Stranger, Baby (Faber & Faber, £10.99). Emily Berry’s second collection, Stranger, Baby – published this year by Faber & Faber, is luminous green and hard to put down. Berry’s first book Dear Boy (2013) is, as its title suggests, openly concerned with the nature of address. From the first line of the first […]

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The Manchester Review

Rory Gleeson, Rockadoon Shore, reviewed by Eve Foster

Rory Gleeson, Rockadoon Shore (John Murray, £14.99). Rockadoon Shore, Irish writer Rory Gleeson’s debut novel, makes use of its form somewhat atypically: not only are we presented with a large cast of main characters and relatively few side-characters, but we are allowed inside the heads of all the main characters in a revolving carousel of […]

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Ian Pople

Four pamphlets from Rack Press, reviewed by Ian Pople

Kathryn Gray, Flowers; Chris Kinsey, Muddy Fox; Martha Sprackland, Glass as Broken Glass; Rory Waterman, Brexit Day on the Balmoral Estate, (Rack Press, £5.00). Kathryn Gray’s pamphlet Flowers references films from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, to Roger Donaldson’s Cocktail. It also has poems about Bill Hicks and The Killers’ Brandon Flowers, who gives the pamphlet […]

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Ian Pople

Joey Connolly, Long Pass, reviewed by Ian Pople

Joey Connolly, Long Pass (Carcanet, £9.99). Joey Connolly’s first book has elegance and charm to spare. But it also has a huge sense of doubt and a willingness to share that doubt with the world. Its epigraph is from John Ashbery’s Three Poems, and includes the statement ‘Better the erratic approach, which wins all or […]

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The Manchester Review

Rebecca Watts, The Met Office Advises Caution, reviewed by Lucy Winrow

Rebecca Watts, The Met Office Advises Caution (Carcanet, £9.99), reviewed by Lucy Winrow.   The delicate cover illustration of The Met Office Advises Caution features a tiny figure outside a burning house, clinging to another figure as it floats away. The scene is arranged in a circular pattern of wispy flowers and birds that – […]

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Ian Pople

Ocean Vuong, Night Sky with Exit Wounds and Robyn Schiff, A Woman of Property, reviewed by Ian Pople

Ocean Vuong, Night Sky with Exit Wounds (Copper Canyon Press, $16.00) Robyn Schiff, A Woman of Property (Penguin Poets, $20.00).   Ocean Vuong’s extensive first book emerges one of the most difficult episodes in recent American history, the Vietnam war. Vuong, born in Vietnam, but brought up in the US, explores the legacy of that […]

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Simon Haworth

Thomas McCarthy, Pandemonium, reviewed by Simon Haworth

Thomas McCarthy, Pandemonium (Carcanet, £9.99). On starting to read and approach this new collection of poems by Thomas McCarthy a comment he made in an interview in Poetry Ireland Review (October, 2008) with Catherine Phil MacCarthy came to mind: It is ourselves we nurse. In our poetry we find the asylum that heals us. The […]

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The Manchester Review

Penguin Modern Poets 1, reviewed by Lucy Burns and Callum Coles

Penguin Modern Poets 1, If I’m Scared We Can’t Win: Emily Berry, Anne Carson, Sophie Collins (Penguin Books, £7.99).   L   I have a few of the Penguin Modern Poets collections from the first series on my shelves, I think maybe the Levertov/Rexroth/Williams and the Corso/Ferlinghetti/Ginsberg, and I vaguely remember paying over the odds for the […]

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