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This review is taken from PN Review 61, Volume 14 Number 5, May - June 1988.

THE IMPORTANCE OF ELSEWHERE John Drew, The Lesser Vehicle (Bloodaxe) £3.95 pb.
Steve Ellis, Home and Away (Bloodaxe) £4.50 pb.

It is disconcerting to find, in the Foreword to John Drew's first collection, the opener 'John Drew is a visionary.' For those of us who are vague messes of the liberal and the sceptical, the plodding and the profane, the term 'visionary' conjures at worst emanation and ectoplasm, or word-clouds sullenly bleeding from a medium's head to be shakily recorded in automatic writing. At best, the term seems like the threat of hypnosis: too much may be let loose, and so with a tired smile we turn back into the usual landscape of libraries and littleness, appearances and hypocrisy. Drew, however, writes without silliness in an honourable and important tradition, and it is one of his strengths that, starting from the empirical and the manifest, he can both suggest and embody in his verse the importance of elsewhere. Consequently, his is a poetry of vanishing points and rearrangements, of silent collusions between selves and possibilities. An attractive feature of his work is that these collusions include himself:


Bower was a philosopher. He would double up
With laughter as he made chalk, chairs and table
Disappear before our eyes...


The conclusion perfectly captures the implication; and notice the fastidious use of the word 'properties':


... Bower had finally done the trick,
Taking his properties with him. That included us.
Listen to me now. Look at me very closely.
I am an echo of ...


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