Books
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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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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