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Most Read... Kei MillerIn the Shadow of Derek Walcott
1930–2017

(PN Review 235)
Alejandro Fernandez-OsorioPomace (trans. James Womack)
(PN Review 236)
Drew MilneTom Raworth’s Writing
‘present past improved’: Tom Raworth’s Writing

(PN Review 236)
Kate BinghamPuddle
(PN Review 236)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Daniel Kaneon Ted Berrigan
(PN Review 169)
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PN Review 236
Featured Article
Tom Raworth’s Writing
‘present past improved’: Tom Raworth’s Writing
Drew Milne TOM RAWORTH’S GENEROUS WORK offers many different types of poetry to celebrate, from the miniature to the micro-epic. My favourite is Writing. In the 1982 Figures edition of Writing, seven thin columns form an outsize double page landscape.1  I treasure the way rust from the book’s staples is spreading into the book’s gutter of my copy, as if as a home for metallic lichens. The poem’s opening lines predict as much: ‘spears of laughter / hiss for a time / then clank across / leaving flakes of rust / to fox pages’.

Writing asks for a sustained sitting – ‘make a fascinating / half-hour’ – but it is not so long as to defeat the attempt to hold its entirety within the mind over a reading. It’s a profound tonic. Some of Raworth’s admirers prefer his shorter poems, a form in which he evidently excelled, but Writing is, for me, the apex of his work. There’s not much point extracting chunks of Writing to stand for the whole: it shape-shifts so continuously as to mock that game.

Tom Raworth’s importance to poetry over the last fifty years is hard to overstate. He had the rare capacity of making friends – in person and through writing – across poetry’s rival tendencies. For many, even those who scarcely knew him, he was Tom rather than Raworth. Pivotal within so-called ‘Cambridge school’ and ‘British Poetry Revival’ poetries, he is probably the least academic and the most widely liked British avant-garde poet of his generation. He could also be construed as British and Irish poetry’s most exemplary mediator of North American poetry, both reworking ... read more
Pomace (trans. James Womack)
Alejandro Fernandez-Osorio Today the orchard called for me.

I took the train without pausing to think. I travelled alone because that’s how they taught me to travel, needing to make it back alive, strong enough to bend and pick up the fruit, to screw down the platen with all my ancestral strength; to arouse, somehow, what has been till now dormant.

*

I guess it’s worth noting that I know what a PlayStation is. And an iPad. And David Foster Wallace. I know there’s a famous strip club in Mieres, and that people in Oviedo and Gijón don’t go out in their slippers to buy bread; but I’m back here to help, to catch the smell of my father (go on, call me bucolic, but I have a father), and to stand looking at this farm that no longer has its orchard but only four useless trees around a dirty swimming pool.

What are they waiting for?

I’m here for that eternal instant: forcing my memory and holding tight to the chill that comes through the door where the dog with the pricked-up ears stands watch.

Look, he’s like Cerberus, I say. My father stares at me in silence and I know, right, I’m not here to give lectures: I’m here to make sweet cider; I’m here for guesswork.

*

We set to work, and the first demand of our work is that we crouch down. I see him forcing himself, as though he still had energy, still had a reason to be working. He puts the apples down on the sack. I bend down too, embarrassed, and gather as many as will fit in my hand. I look at how he works. Do I take these ones as well? I ask. Of course, he says. I like to touch the grass with my knuckles; it is still wet from the night-frost, the night-frost that frightens the animals away and makes this place a northern desert, the kind that fits over life from above instead of lying beneath its feet.

*

... read more
Puddle
Kate Bingham I
Something wrong under this bit of pavement –
some resettlement of grit or sand –
has tipped the slabs to make a shallow dish,
a bowl of rain we have to walk around.

Though it’s an inconvenient arrangement
no one complains, there are no roadworks planned;
because we know the council isn’t rich
we watch our feet on its uneven ground.

Everything must be paid for, saved, or spent
except this derelict liquid silver island
... read more
Selected from the Archive...
A Lyric Voice at Bay Eavan Boland
Critics work in a text. Biographers work in the foreground and the background. And the critic's work is made much harder when the background has been overwritten by events, interpretations and frank and forgetful prejudice. At that point the critic has to do some double-jobbing in order to rescue the text from the biographical background and the reader's resistance.

Albert Gelpi has set himself a hard task.1 Cecil Day Lewis, at least at first glance, is a decidedly awkward subject. Before reading this book I would have said Day Lewis was a refugee from the 1930s: and Anglo-Irish Georgian, who admired Tom Moore and consorted with Auden. A gentlemanly Communist. A hopelessly lyric inhabitant of a hard-driving decade. A poet who didn't so much lose his identity as have it handed to him in fragments: national, poetic, ... read more
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