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
1930–2017

(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 37, Volume 10 Number 5, March - April 1984.

TWO WAYS OF SEEING Gael Turnbull, A Gathering of Poems 1950-1980 (Anvil Press) £7.95, £4.95 pb.
Fleur Adcock, Selected Poems (OUP) £7.95.

Gael Turnbull is happy to utilize a number of different forms in order to communicate his view of a multi-faceted but ultimately hostile universe. The poems, written over thirty years, work best when they splash across big canvases; the miniatures seem too self-consciously emblematic and enigmatic.

This book, then, can gather together poems as different as 'Happiest' (' "Happiest/like this"/she said -/happy/with him/like that') and 'A Word/A Phrase' in which, as the poet says in a note, 'Any of the one hundred and twelve phrases may relate to any of the twenty-eight nouns. The order is random. This version is no less final than any other.' Individually the words and phrases are often striking ('a dance/as a gull, cliff edge, above surf') and the piece as a whole achieves a complex cumulative effect.

Perhaps the most completely successful poem in the book is the ambitious 'Twenty Words/Twenty Days'. In this domestic epic Turnbull chooses a word at random from a dictionary and builds a diary-poem around it for each one of twenty consecutive days in November and December 1963. These poems, tentatively anchored to their word for the day, take in discussions on memory, aesthetics, time, and the nature of self, as well as discussing the day's events. Sometimes the word chosen for the day seems apt, and at other times the day-poem struggles to accommodate the word. In this way the entire piece turns upon itself and becomes an examination of the poet's reasons ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image