Books
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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Simon Haworth

Ottessa Moshfegh, Homesick For Another World, reviewed by Simon Haworth

Ottessa Moshfegh, Homesick For Another World, (Jonathan Cape, £16.99), 304 pp. This collection of short stories rides quickly off the back of Ottessa Moshfegh’s Booker Prize listed novel Eileen. Many of the stories within her new book share some thematic or tonal DNA and architecture with that novel, if not being quite as generically inclined […]

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The Manchester Review

Jacob Polley, Jackself, reviewed by Joe Carrick-Varty

Jacob Polley, Jackself (Picador, £9.99), 80 pp. Jacob Polley’s new book, Jackself, is a collection of story poems, snippets of conversation, thinking and remembering. The poems are unified by the character of Jackself, a shapeshifter who emerges, along with Jeremy Wren and other members of his gang, to surprise the reader across the collection. Jackself […]

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Ian Pople

Christian Wiman, Hammer is the Prayer: Selected Poems, reviewed by Ian Pople

Christian Wiman, Hammer is the Prayer: Selected Poems (Farrar, Strauss and Giraux, $26.00). Towards the beginning of his wonderful prose book, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer, Christian Wiman comments, ‘I grew up in a flat little sandblasted town in West Texas: pumpjacks and pickup trucks, cotton like grounded clouds, a dying strip, […]

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Ian Pople

Ruth Sharman, Scarlet Tiger (Templar Poetry, £10)

Ruth Sharman’s Scarlet Tiger comes some time after her first collection, Birth of the Owl Butterflies; its title poem a second place winner in the Arvon Poetry Competition. In this book too, there are poems about butterflies and Sharman’s father. Indeed the interest in, near obsession with, butterflies is clearly inherited from her father, as […]

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The Manchester Review

Tom French, The Way to Work (Gallery Press, €12.50), reviewed by Ken Evans

Patrick Kavanagh said that, ‘to know fully even one field or one land is a lifetime’s experience.’ In Tom French’s fourth collection from Ireland’s Gallery Press, The Way to Work, the poet homes in (I use the verb advisedly) on a way of life in rural Ireland, that seems almost familiar, to both poet and […]

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The Manchester Review

Peter Sansom, Careful What You Wish For (Carcanet, £9.95), reviewed by Ken Evans

At first sight, the cover of Peter Sansom’s sixth collection, Be Careful What You Wish For, and the poem to which it refers, ‘Lava Lamp’ – a concrete poem simulating, as the poet puts it, the ‘soun dl ess gloo b le/ and gl oop’ of the lamps’ shape-shifting contents –  are experimentally atypical of […]

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The Manchester Review

Kate Tempest, Let Them Eat Chaos (Picador, £7.99) reviewed by Chloé Vaughan

Kate Tempest’s newest collection of poetry demands to be felt. Let Them Eat Chaos is a book-length poem that begins with the admission, and gentle command, that ‘this poem was written to be read aloud’. Though Let Them Eat Chaos is meant to be read aloud, its performance on the page as a written poem […]

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Ian Pople

Marilyn Hacker, A Stranger’s Mirror: New and Selected Poems 1994-2014 (W.W.Norton, £17.50)

Marilyn Hacker’s A Stranger’s Mirror is an extraordinary book. A book which runs to 288 pages, and which is a selected from just twenty years’ worth of writing. The poems must pour out of Hacker as if there were no tomorrow. And there is a highly charged, highly pressured feel to all of this writing; […]

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The Manchester Review

Ruby Robinson, Every Little Sound (Pavilion Poetry, £9.99), reviewed by Lucy Winrow

The title of Ruby Robinson’s poetry debut is derived from a line within its pages; the notion of paying close attention to “every little sound” appears in “Internal Gain,” a poem that traverses a gamut of sounds from “the conversation downstairs” to “echoes of planets slowly creaking.” The preface provides a definition of this central […]

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The Manchester Review

Eimear McBride, The Lesser Bohemians (Faber & Faber, £13.99), reviewed by Maria Alejandra Barrios

This is the kind of love story that will make you fight for it, the kind that will break your heart and mend it all at once. At every step of the way, it will make you feel that you’re alongside the characters cheering for them or sharing the same doubts as their love progresses. […]

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Ian Pople

Roy Fisher, Slakki: New and Neglected Poems (Bloodaxe) £9.95

Roy Fisher often gives his books gently punning titles. His Collected was entitled ‘The Long and the Short of it’. And Fisher’s New and Neglect’s punning on Selected brings back into circulation a range poems that have been fugitive from the Fisher canon, right from the beginning of Fisher’s publishing; along with a group of lovely […]

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Ian Pople

Cathy Galvin, Rough Translation; David Morley, The Death of Wisdom Smith, Prince of Gypsies (Melos Press) £5.00 each

  David Morley has had more than his fair share of prizes recently;  this year the Ted Hughes Award for New Poetry for his Selected Poems.  This beautifully presented pamphlet continues the writing Morley has done using vocabulary from Romani, for which Morley has made a project of bringing Romani back into the mainstream of […]

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Ian Pople

The Poems of Basil Bunting, (Faber) £30.00, reviewed by Ian Pople

The Poems of Basil Bunting edited with and introduction and commentary by Don Share. In 1952, Basil Bunting visited T. S. Eliot with a view to getting Eliot to publish his Poems 1950. This volume had been published in America by one of Pound’s acolytes, Dallam Flynn, although Bunting had little involvement with the book, […]

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David Cooke

Leabhar na hAthghabhála, Poems of Repossession, ed. by Louis de Paor (Bloodaxe Books) £15.00

  Louis de Paor’s bilingual Leabhar na hAthghabhála, Poems of Repossession, is the first major anthology of Irish language poetry for a quarter of a century since Dermot Bolger’s Bright Wave: An Tonn Gheal (Raven Arts Press, 1986) and An Crann Faoi Bhláth, The Flowering Tree (Wolfhound Press, 1991), edited by Declan Kiberd and Gabriel […]

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Ian Pople

Amali Rodrigo Lotus Gatherers (Bloodaxe Books) £9.95, reviewed by Ian Pople

The blurb to Amali Rodrigo’s first collection, Lotus Gatherers, comments ‘the lotus flower embodies the promise of purity and transcendence because it rises clear out of the muddy mire of its origins. It represents both abstract realms and the concrete phenomenal world.  The lotus root is also an aphrodisiac.’  In Greek mythology, the lotus is […]

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Ian Pople

The Book of Khartoum: a city in short fiction, eds. Raph Cormack & Max Shmookler (Comma Press) £9.99, reviewed by Ian Pople

The Khartoum I knew in the early ‘80s, was a dry, sprawling low-rise city, where the dominant mode of transport was still the horse and cart.  The Hilux pick-up bus, known locally as a ‘box’ had started to become more commonplace, bouncing over the vaguely tarmacked, sandy roads that ran even in the city centre.  […]

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Ian Pople

Anthony Caleshu, The Victor Poems (Shearsman) £9.95, reviewed by Ian Pople

Anthony Caleshu’s extraordinary book, set in polar regions, appears at first glance to riff on two other poets, T.S. Eliot and W.S. Graham:  T.S. Eliot for those lines from ‘What the Thunder said’ in which the two walking ‘up the white road’ appear to have a ghostly third walking with them.  In Eliot’s notes for […]

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Ian Pople

Melos Press pamphlets, reviewed by Ian Pople

A.C.Bevan, The Encyclopaedist; Nicolas Murray, The Migrant Ship; Jo Dixon, A Woman in the Queue, (Melos Press, £5.00). A.C.Bevan’s The Encyclopaedist is subtitled ‘A ready reference in 16 volumes’. The contents page somewhat belies that subtitle as the sixteen poems in the pamphlet are each given an alphabetical designation, beginning with A-AU, and ending with […]

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Ian Pople

Rosie Jackson, The Light Box (Cultured Llama) £10.00

Rosie Jackson The Light Box Cultured Llama £10.00   The Light Box is a very handsome book. The cover features one of Stanley Spencer’s Resurrections and the print is good and clear with very little bleed over the pages.  The poems inside are equally handsome and well written and Spencer features in those. Spencer put […]

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The Manchester Review

Tony Curtis, Approximately in the Key of C (Arc Publications) £8.09, reviewed by Peter Viggers

Tony Curtis Approximately in the Key of C (Arc Publications) Tony Curtis was born in Dublin, his latest collection Approximately in the Key of C, is a work of seeming ease.  The key of C is thought to be the simplest of keys because it has no sharps and no flats, though Chopin apparently regarded the scale as […]

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Ian Pople

Karthika Nair, Until the Lions: Echoes from the Mahabharata (Arc) £12.99, reviewed by Ian Pople

London has just been through one of its public engagements with the Mahabharata.  Thirty years after his acclaimed nine-hour version of the original text, Peter Brook has just brought a short play called ‘Battle’ to the Young Vic;  the reviews were very mixed.  In January, at London’s Round House, the choreographer Akram Khan staged his […]

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The Manchester Review

Zelda Chappel, The Girl in the Dog-Tooth Coat (Bare Fiction) £8.99, reviewed by Ken Evans

Zelda Chappel, The Girl in the Dog-Tooth Coat – (Bare Fiction, £8.99), reviewed by Ken Evans Zelda Chappell’s poems takes a jagged-edged penny to the ‘Scratch Card’ of love and relationships and never rub through more than two in a row – always there is loss, diminution, a relinquishing. She is adept at grounding yearning […]

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The Manchester Review

William Wantling, In the Enemy Camp: Selected Poems 1964 -1974 (Tangerine Press) £12.00, reviewed by Doug Field

William Wantling, In the Enemy Camp: Selected Poems 1964-1974 (Introduction by John Osborne, Foreword by Thurston Moore). “I can make good word music and rhyme,” declares the narrator of William Wantling’s “Poetry,” “and even sometimes take their breath away—but it always somehow turns out kind of phoney.” A veteran of the Korean War, a criminal and […]

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Ian Pople

Stephen Payne, Pattern Beyond Chance (Happenstance) £10.00

Stephen Payne Pattern Beyond Chance (Happenstance, £10.00) ‘Stephen Payne’s academic background is in psychology’ says the first line of the blurb on the back of Payne’s Happenstance collection.  And this book is quite often about the scientist as poet.  It is broken down into four sections:  Design; Word; Mind & Time – so asking the […]

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The Manchester Review

Sarah Corbett, And She Was (Pavilion) £9.99, reviewed by Annie Muir

Sarah Corbett, And She Was (Pavilion, £9.99), reviewed by Annie Muir   Whether it’s used as the refrain in the titular Talking Heads song or as the central narrative device of Genesis, the word ‘and’ holds the English language together like braces worn by teenagers to close the gaps in their teeth. In Genesis, as […]

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David Cooke

Matthew Sweeney, Inquisition Lane (Bloodaxe Books) £9.95, reviewed by David Cooke

Inquisition Lane is Matthew Sweeney’s eleventh collection and his second since moving to Bloodaxe with Horse Music in 2013. Both collections are substantial volumes weighing in at over ninety pages each with Inquisition Lane containing some sixty poems, while its predecessor had seventy. Normally, such copiousness would set alarm bells ringing, but with Sweeney one’s […]

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Ian Pople

Carl Phillips, Reconnaisance (Farrar, Strauss, Giroux) $23.00

Carl Phillips has long been feted as a subtle and dexterous technician.  In a New Yorker review, Dan Chiasson pushes Phillips forward as a ‘candidate for the author of the most interesting contemporary English sentences’.  A Phillips poem may consist of anything between 10 and 15 lines, each part of one or two long sentences.  Such sentences […]

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The Manchester Review

Mona Arshi, Small Hands (Pavilion Poetry) £9.99, reviewed by Ken Evans

Mona Arshi’s debut collection Small Hands won the Forward Prize for best first collection, and her relatively short poetic CV is a comet-tail of successes: Magma Competition prize 2012, joint winner of the Manchester Poetry prize 2014, an award in the Troubadour – she has traced a brilliant trajectory in a short time. Having heard her […]

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The Manchester Review

Daniel Sluman, the terrible (Nine Arches) £9.99), reviewed by Ken Evans

A blood-spatter or tainted x-ray? The vivid front cover of Daniel Sluman’s second collection from Nine Arches, the terrible, (even the title sounds cut from its meaning), alerts you that this volume deals with what Sluman describes as the ‘dark underbelly of our relatively comfortable lives.’ If the endlessly dividing cell that is contemporary poetry […]

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