Reviews
Ian Pople

Morgan Parker | Magical Negro | reviewed by Ian Pople

Morgan Parker | Magical Negro | Corsair: £10.99 Danez Smith is quoted on the front of Morgan Parker’s new collection as declaring that Parker as ‘on of this generation’s finest minds.’ One reason for concentrating on Parker’s intellect might be that Parker’s writing, for all its often unconstrained, emotional vehemence, is actually a study in […]

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Ian Pople

Brenda Shaughnessy | The Octopus Museum | reviewed by Ian Pople

Brenda Shaughnessy | The Octopus Museum | Alfred A. Knopf: $25.00 Brenda Shaughnessy’s basic style is to have long prose poem lines composed of short, declarative sentences. The effect of this is both to sustain argument while delivering snap and weight. At the same time, there is sometimes a slightly curt, slightly overly driven feel […]

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Livi Michael

Julian Daizan Skinner, Laszlo Mihaly, Kazuaki Okazaki | Rough Waking | reviewed by Livi Michael

Julian Daizan Skinner, Laszlo Mihaly, Kazuaki Okazaki | Rough Waking | Zenways Press: £12.99 Rough Waking combines visual imagery and poetry in an exploration of the apparently paradoxical themes of homelessness and confinement; or confinement-in-homelessness and homelessness-in-confinement. The book is divided into three sections, and the contributors are Laszlo Mihaly, a photographer who spent many […]

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The Manchester Review

Dario Jaramillo | Impossible Loves | reviewed by David Cooke

Dario Jaramillo | Impossible Loves | Carcanet: £12.99 Impossible Loves by Dario Jaramillo is a bilingual selection from the work of Colombia’s greatest living poet translated into English by Stephen Gwyn, who has also written a helpful afterword. It’s the first time that Jaramillo’s poems have been made available to an English-speaking audience, an opportunity […]

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The Manchester Review

Ken Evans reviews new work by Emma Simon, Alice Allen, Marie Naughton and Martin Zarrop

The much-missed Les Murray, writing about David Morley, highlighted his capacity to achieve a ‘refraction of the familiar.’  Emma Simon’s Smith/Doorstop pamphlet competition winner The Odds (2019) shares this ability to imbue the everyday with a shining radiance.  Mundane details are given a twist of the Gothic as in a pub’s Hades-like cellar (‘The World’s […]

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Ian Pople

Amanda Berenguer | Materia Prima | reviewed by Ian Pople

Amanda Berenguer | Materia Prima: Selected Poems of Amanda Berenguer | Ugly Duckling Press: $22 Materia Prima is the first extended single publication of Amanda Berenguer’s poetry in English. Berenguer was born in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1921, and spent much of the rest of her life there; although she did have extended visits to the […]

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The Manchester Review

Emergence | dir. by Joss Arnott | reviewed by Imogen Durant

Emergence | dir. by Joss Arnott | University of Salford Emergence is an intense and varied trio of performances which showcases some outstanding dance. Devised by Joss Arnott in collaboration with dancers from the University of Salford’s MA Dance Performance and Professional Practices Programme, this memorable production raises urgent political and social questions. The first […]

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The Manchester Review

Michael Schmidt | Gilgamesh, the Life of a Poem | reviewed by David Cooke

Michael Schmidt | Gilgamesh, the Life of a Poem | Princeton University Press: £22.00 The long poem known as Gilgamesh or the Epic of Gilgamesh is the most ancient literary text we have and the earliest surviving work of literature that has the power to move and inspire us. It predates the Iliad and the oldest […]

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Ian Pople

Carolyn Forché | The Country Between Us | reviewed by Ian Pople

Carolyn Forché | The Country Between Us | Bloodaxe: £9.95 Forché’s The Country Between Us is a reissue of a book which was originally published by Jonathan Cape shortly after its original publication in the US. It is a book of poems that documents Forché’s time in El Salvador as it was turning to civil […]

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Sam Webb

Ben Lerner | The Topeka School | reviewed by Sam Webb

Ben Lerner | The Topeka School | Granta Books: £12.99 A dozen-or-so pages into Ben Lerner’s The Topeka School, the narrator Adam Gordon demonstrates the professional debating technique known as ‘the spread’. A competitor proposes as many arguments as possible within their allotted time. The speech is quick and aggressive, ratcheting ‘to nearly unintelligible speed, […]

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Alicia J. Rouverol

Olga Zilberbourg | Like Water and Other Stories | reviewed by Alicia J Rouverol

Olga Zilberbourg | Like Water and Other Stories | WTAW Press: $16.95 In an era of ‘short shorts’ hailed in by the venerable Lydia Davis—and culminating in ‘the fragmentary’ in the recent Nobel Prize-winning work of Olga Tokarczuk—one wonders if there remains space for a new collection of shorts: stories that up-end expectation and offer […]

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Chad Campbell

Calexico and Iron & Wine | Bridgewater Hall | Manchester

Calexico and Iron & Wine w/ Lisa O’Neill | Bridgewater Hall | Manchester This Wednesday night Calexico and Iron & Wine performed to a near sold-out crowd at Manchester’s Bridgewater hall in support of their new collaboration, Years to Burn. The joined bands had been nominated that morning for Grammy’s in Best American Roots Performance […]

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The Manchester Review

Richard Clegg makes the case for Neil Campbell

Give Him A Reading: a review of Lanyards by Neil Campbell and a reading at Waterstones, Deansgate by the author, chaired by Nick Royle, on November 7th, 2019   When the team meets up to plan the Manchester Literature Festival, Neil Campbell deserves a place on any events list. He is one of the few […]

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Livi Michael

David Constantine | The Dressing-Up Box | reviewed by Livi Michael

David Constantine | The Dressing-Up Box | Comma Press: £14.99 In ‘Siding with the Weeds’, the third short story of David Constantine’s new collection The Dressing-Up Room, the protagonist, Joe, goes to visit his old friend Bert. Details of place are meticulously realised; Bert lives on a cul-de-sac on an estate of ‘Sunshine Houses, all […]

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The Manchester Review

Louder than Words Festival: Jordan Mooney and Cathi Unsworth, reviewed by Alienor Bombarde

Books, Ballet and Bodacious Backgrounds – Defying Gravity and Defining a Punk Ethic Jordan Mooney and Cathi Unsworth were interviewed by John Robb on Saturday, 9th of November, 2019, at the Louder than Words Festival Jordan Mooney, the punk symbol who disappeared from London in the 1980s, has come back to the public eye among […]

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Ian Pople

Justin Wymer | Deed | reviewed by Ian Pople

Justin Wymer | Deed | Elixir Press: $17.00 The title of this, Justin Wymer’s first book, certainly reflects the involving, driven quality of the poems between its covers. Wymer is not afraid to push the reader. And he does this not only in the subject matter of the poems but also in the impacted quality […]

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Sam Webb

Zadie Smith | Grand Union | reviewed by Sam Webb

Zadie Smith | Grand Union | Hamish Hamilton: £20.00 (Hardback) Since the publication of White Teeth in the year 2000, Zadie Smith has published her fair share of books: four novels, a novella, two collections of essays, dozens of journalism pieces and now a short story collection, Grand Union. And like the rest, this book […]

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The Manchester Review

The Talleyrand | How To Beat Up Your Dad | reviewed by Fran Slater

The Talleyrand | How to Beat Up Your Dad | October 16th, 2019 What did you get up to last night? My evening started with a band that resembled the twisted lovechildren of Flight of the Conchords and recent Arctic Monkeys, and ended with a barely clothed man standing over his bleeding father on the […]

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Ian Pople

Michael O’Neill | Crash and Burn | reviewed by Ian Pople

Michael O’Neill | Crash and Burn | Arc Publications: £10.99 Michael O’Neill’s death in December of last year was a grievous loss to British letters. He was one of our finest commentators on Romantic poetry, in particular Shelley, whose collected works he edited with Zachary Leader, although these were not his only academic interests. O’Neill’s […]

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The Manchester Review

MLF 2019: Emilie Pine and Sinead Gleeson at the IABF, 13/10/19, reviewed by Erin McNamara

Emilie Pine and Sinéad Gleeson were interviewed by Kate Feld at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation on 13th October. After introductions, Gleeson read from an essay entitled ‘On the Atomic Nature of Trimesters’ from her collection Constellations, and Pine from the first of her book Notes to Self – ‘Notes on Intemperance’. While very different […]

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The Manchester Review

MLF 2019: Booker Prize Shortlist, with Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, Martin Harris Centre, 11/10/19, reviewed by Georgia Way

“The suffering of the novelist”: 2019 Booker Prize Shortlist Bernardine Evaristo, Lucy Ellmann & Chigozie Obioma in conversation with Ellah Wakatama Allfrey 11th October 2019, Martin Harris Centre An evening with three of the Booker Prize nominees – Bernardine Evaristo (Girl, Woman, Other), Lucy Ellmann (Ducks, Newburyport) and Chigozie Obioma (An Orchestra of Minorities) – […]

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The Manchester Review

Two Memoirs:  Moby, Then It Fell Apart | Patti Smith, Year of the Monkey, reviewed by Richard Clegg

Moby: Then It Fell Apart, Faber & Faber: £14.99 Patti Smith: Year of the Monkey, Bloomsbury: £12.99 Moby and Patti Smith represent two distinct generations of American music. Moby is one of the leading creators of popular electronic dance music. His breakthrough album Play became the soundtrack for films, and many adverts. His videos have […]

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The Manchester Review

Cork International Short Story Festival 2019 (25 – 28 September), reviewed by Phil Olsen

A Partial Diary of the Cork International Short Story Festival 2019 (25 – 28 September) Phil Olsen Like me, the Cork Arts Theatre was established in 1976 (though I was never fondly referred to as the “CAT Club” in my early years). It is here that I arrived on a rainy late September evening to […]

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The Manchester Review

MLF 2019: Elif Shafak at Central Library, 10/10/19, reviewed by Probert Dean

When Elif Shafak finished her talk, I looked back on the event – an intimate gathering at Manchester Central Library – and reflected on her aesthetic turns of phrase, the lingering visions of her lively prose, and the sobering inevitability with which all discussions now turn to politics. Shafak is described as British-Turkish (or Turkish-British) […]

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The Manchester Review

MLF 2019:  ‘A Little Body Are Many Parts / Un Cuerpecito Son Muchas Partes’, 9/10/19, reviewed by Charlotte Wetton

‘A Little Body Are Many Parts / Un Cuerpecito Son Muchas Partes’ is one of those rare and lovely things: a poetry book with the original language and the English translation side by side. Poems from Legna Rodríguez Iglesias’ eight collections, written in Spanish, sit beside Abigail Parry and Seraphina Vick’s English translations. During the […]

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The Manchester Review

MLF 2019: Isabel Galleymore and Stephen Sexton, Blackwell’s, 7/10/19, reviewed by Kathryn Tann

Introduced to Blackwells on a chilly October evening are poets Isabel Galleymore and Stephen Sexton, along with their shining debut collections. Both with previously published pamphlets, both lecturers in Creative Writing, yet both with a unique and distinctive voice; each takes their place before the keen audience to read and discuss their latest work. First […]

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The Manchester Review

MLF 2019: Take 2, Jonathan Safran Foer at the Cosmo Rodewald, 8/10/19, reviewed by Erin McNamara

Jonathan Safran Foer has a plan to tackle climate change – but he wants you to come up with your own. In conversation with Erica Wagner, former literary editor of The Times, the writer discussed his latest book – a non-fiction work on climate change that is not so much a call to arms as […]

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The Manchester Review

MLF 2019: Take 1, Jonathan Safran Foer at the Cosmo Rodewald, 8/10/19, reviewed by Joss Areté Kelvin

Jonathan Safran Foer, Literature Live at the Martin Harris Centre, Centre for New Writing, 8/10/19, reviewed by Joss Areté Kelvin Acclaimed novelist and non-fiction writer Jonathan Safran Foer is sharing his own vulnerabilities in an effort to get his audience to question our own. His new book, We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Starts […]

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The Manchester Review

Helen Tookey | City of Departures | reviewed by Sophie Baldock

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The Manchester Review

MLF 2019: Jeanette Winterson, Frankissstein, RNCM Theatre, 5/10/19, reviewed by Georgia Hase

Jeanette Winterson, Frankissstein: Manchester Literature Festival at the RNCM Theatre in partnership with the Centre for New Writing, 5/10/19, reviewed by Georgia Hase On the evening of Saturday the 5th of October Jeanette Winterson gave a reading unlike any other. Interactive, dramatic, futuristic, her performance was electrifying. Winterson animated the audience with her insightful and […]

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Ian Pople

Marilyn Hacker | Blazons: New and Selected Poems | reviewed by Ian Pople

Marilyn Hacker | Blazons: New and Selected Poems, 2000 – 2018 | Carcanet: £14.99 There is a detailed, but never dry, attention paid in the poems in Marilyn Hacker’s new, Selected; an attention is not only to the things she observes, but, and this is a huge part of Hacker’s success, there is a real […]

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The Manchester Review

MLF 2019: Common People at The Cosmo Rodewald Theatre, Martin Harris Centre, 5/10/19 reviewed by Charlotte Wetton

Review of Common People, Manchester Literature  I went to the ‘Common People’ event because I crave new stories and new voices. Working-class experience in literature is a rich seam not yet tapped. If I were a publisher, I would be signing up some of these debut writers pronto. Common People is an anthology of memoir – […]

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The Manchester Review

MLF 2019: David Nicholls in conversation with Alex Clark, at the Cosmo Rodewald Hall, Martin Harris Centre, 4/10/19, reviewed by Georgia Way

David Nicholls in conversation with Alex Clark The last time journalist Alex Clark interviewed writer David Nicholls in Manchester, it was, she says, a “mad experience” involving the police and broken microphones. David returned to Manchester on 4th October 2019 as part of his book tour for Sweet Sorrow – a story of first love […]

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The Manchester Review

Paul Muldoon and Alice Oswald: Literature Live at The Martin Harris Centre, Centre for New Writing, 3/10/19, reviewed by Georgia Hase

Paul Muldoon and Alice Oswald: Literature Live at The Martin Harris Centre, Centre for New Writing, 3/10/19, reviewed by Georgia Hase An evening in time, out of time, about time. Last night the remarkable Alice Oswald and Paul Muldoon gave the Centre of New Writing an evening of laughter and reflection. Both poets chose from […]

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The Manchester Review

Macbeth, Royal Exchange 13 Sept – 19 Oct, reviewed by Ronan Long

Macbeth | The Royal Exchange Macbeth has, at this point, been reshaped and diverted in so many different ways, it seems impossible for a director to find something new and explorable in its enduring characters and story. In directing this modernized incarnation, Christopher Haydon definitely gives it a good shot. The play opens with a […]

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