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This review is taken from PN Review 59, Volume 14 Number 3, January - February 1988.

FRAMING Fleur Adcock, The Incident Book (OUP) £3.95 pb.
Michael Jackson, Going On (John McIndoe) £5.50 pb.
Iain Lonie, The Entrance to Purgatory (John McIndoe) n.p.
Stephen Watson, In this City (David Philip) £3.25 pb.

In a brilliant poem about images and the eye as viewfinder called 'Leaving the Tate', Fleur Adcock writes: 'Art's whatever you choose to frame'. Coincidentally, three of these volumes of poetry frame with a similar impetus: Fleur Adcock's The Incident Book is dedicated to the memory of her friend Pauline Jackson, the wife of the poet Michael Jackson whose Going On is described by him as 'a kind of logbook kept during the year before and six months after' his wife's death. Iain Lonie's The Entrance to Purgatory is also about bereavement, a man learning how to find, echoing Jackson, 'a place to go on from'. Stephen Watson's poems have at times an elegaic quality, but it relates to waste rather than loss in Cape Town, the focus of In this City.

The delightful painting by Stanley Spencer, framed on the cover of The Incident Book, is an appropriate introduction to the poems; it shows suburban gardens enclosed by walls and railings but vivid with flowers. Intense emotion is repeatedly framed by ordinary scenes, items of furniture or familiar situations in the poems; those experiencing the emotion are also conscious of their restrictions. The first stanza of the poem entitled 'Kissing' shows young lovers 'clamped together', not seeing anyone older than themselves. 'They've got all day'. But


Seeing's not everything. At this very
moment the middle-aged are kissing
in the backs of taxis, on the way
to airports and stations. ...
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