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This review is taken from PN Review 239, Volume 44 Number 3, January - February 2018.

Cover of Lithos
Ian Pople‘I am innocent'

Anthony Barnett, Lithos (Allardyce Book) £15.00
Anthony Barnett’s imprint Allardyce Barnett was instrumental for the publication and republication of a number of important poets of the so-called Cambridge School in the eighties. He published Collecteds from Andrew Crozier, Douglas Oliver, and the main figure, J.H. Prynne. Barnett also published a collected Veronica Forrest-Thomson. These important books are presented in lovely, understated editions with plain printing and pale yellow ochre dust jackets. Barnett has carried on that imprint with editions of his own delicate poems.

Anthony Barnett’s poetry often seems to originate from the ‘empirical’ Barnett. In ‘I am Innocent’, for example, the title is repeated in the first line, and then the poem continues as follows:

I remember that small thing, that and not that. That particular
    bowl of pasta for that lunch at that hotel

And so I go over things, over and over things
And I do not do what I should do
And the looking after
 I sit waiting waiting
Here but never here
Here but not here

This layering of introspection feels authentic here, although the language is folded with a line such as ‘And the looking after’. Barnett still proceeds as a ‘language’ poet in this poem but his concentration on the signifier rather than the signified is steeped in an introspection which seems to link the two.

And elsewhere in the book, the poems are positively domestic, as in the short prose poem ‘To the Woods’:

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