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This review is taken from PN Review 151, Volume 29 Number 5, May - June 2003.

OUTSIDE IN AND INSIDE OUT EMMA-JANE ARKADY, Lithium (Arc)
ARJEN DUINKER, The Sublime Song of a Maybe (Arc)
KEVIN HART, Flame Tree: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe)

Two of these poets approach the world from the outside, as it were, and the third from the inside out. At its best, Emma-Jane Arkady's technique is almost cubist; taking a situation and viewing it from a number of angles. She encodes those angles in a variety of registers often within the same sentence, and is unafraid to attenuate the syntax in the process: `An age seemed to pass/tied up in the white car/all the flower girls/and the cute page/lining the way in/a guard preventing the escape/ /Father Michael frowned/and that faint smell/of urine/the blade nicks/red on the dog/do you take let close/the hint of last night/Bell's and a Chinese' (`A Sacrament for Annie'). Not `language' poetry, not stream of consciousness, but a deft exploiting of the resources of both. In performance this is quite exhilarating; a helter skelter ride around the angles while bobbing in and out of the poet's consciousness.

The necessity to make the language unadorned and conversational is perhaps a price worth paying when what emerges, interestingly, is a sharp, focussed and often poignant view of the world. Particularly, the urban world. And the rhythms that drive the poems are usually taut enough for the `plain style' to work; injecting a nursery rhyme quality that sustains the fairy tale aspect that some of these poems have: `Up from up from up/from where I just don't/but so and so and so/mother called out too late/as we scattered off/into my wood (`Anna and Clara').
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