PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
Digital Access to PN Review
Access the latest issues, plus back issues of PN Review with Exact Editions For PN Review subscribers: to access the PN Review digital archive via the Exact Editions app Exactly or the Exact Editions website, you will first need to know your PN Review ID number. read more
PN Review Prize winners announced
Carcanet Press and PN Review are delighted to announce the winners of the first ever PN Review Prize. read more
Most Read... Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Drew MilneTom Raworth’s Writing
‘present past improved’: Tom Raworth’s Writing

(PN Review 236)
Alejandro Fernandez-OsorioPomace (trans. James Womack)
(PN Review 236)
Kei MillerIn the Shadow of Derek Walcott

(PN Review 235)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Kate BinghamPuddle
(PN Review 236)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Gratis Ad 1
Gratis Ad 2
Next Issue CELEBRATING JOHN ASHBERY Contributors include Mark Ford, Marina Warner, Jeremy Over, Theophilus Kwek, Sam Riviere, Luke Kennard, Philip Terry,Agnes Lehoczky, Emily Critchley, Oli Hazard and others Miles Champion The Gold Standard Rebecca Watts The Cult of the Noble Amateur Marina Tsvetaeva ‘My desire has the features of a woman’: Two Letters translated by Christopher Whyte Iain Bamforth Black and White

This review is taken from PN Review 102, Volume 21 Number 4, March - April 1995.

LYRIC URGES PETER DIDSBURY, That Old-Time Religion (Bloodaxe) £6.95
DENISE RILEY, Mop Mop Georgette (Reality Street Editions) £6.50
CHARLES MADGE, Of Love, Time and Places: Selected Poems (Anvil Press) £18.95
GRAHAM FULTON, Knights of the Lower Floors (Polygon) £6.95

Everywhere one looks in That Old-Time Religion one is drawn towards the middle. Chill and harsh, the collection opens on 'The Shore', 'A minute past noon/and deeply cold…'. 'Passing the Park' the poet notes a 'bright midwinter morning… just before lunch'. For the taut Edwardian types of 'At North Villa' it is, perpetually it seems, 'the middle of that morning'. And Satan ('The Devil on Holiday') is 'a worn-out guy in his middle forties/in 1940s America'. Likewise the poetry's characteristic situations - the shore, the park, the furniture store, 'our semi-industrial suburb' - locate the familiar territory of shared reference; a middle ground approached through both disembodied statements of fact ('deeply cold on the shore'), and personal expressions of experience ('I drive by the park'). Neither voice is entirely inappropriate, but surely, the collection wonders, something between the two would be more truthful. As with his previous collections (The Butchers of Hull and The Classical Farm), That Old-Time Religion is framed by two epigraphs. In this case we have Roy Fisher remarking that 'Things we make up out of language turn into common property', and Arthur Hugh Clough insisting that 'Still, individual culture is also something'. And it is precisely towards an utterance able to negotiate the space between these remarks, the space between public and private, that Didsbury's middles point.

Appropriately then, or is it predictably, one can hardly decide which, the emblem of Didsbury's relation to language in That Old-Time Religion is the hyphen. Indeed ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image