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This review is taken from PN Review 134, Volume 26 Number 6, July - August 2000.

HEALTHY TENSIONS ALESANDER RISTOVIC, Devil's Lunch, translated by Charles Simic (Faber) £8.99
MARIUS KOCIEJOWSKI, Music's Bride (Anvil) £7.99
PETER SCUPHAM, Night Watch (Anvil) £7.99
FERGUS ALLEN, Mrs Power Looks Over the Bay (Faber) £8.99

Given the limitations of a publisher's budget and the narrow base of the poetry reading public it is heartening to see that a wide range of subject matter and formal strategies from different poets are still making their way on to publishers' lists. The four poets here all display a healthy tension between subject and language or between content and form in their markedly different styles.

Aleksander Ristovic was born in 1933 and died in 1994. He enjoyed a prolific and distinguished career in Belgrade although he made his living as an editor of children's books. Charles Simic, as translator, provides an illuminating introduction and this selection, Devil's Lunch, is based with additions on his selection published in America under the title Some Other Wine and Light (Charioteer Press, Washington) in 1989. Simic describes Ristovic as Serbian although by far the greater part of his life was spent in the Yugoslavia created after 1918. A couple of writer friends from Novi Sad in exile in Slovakia still prefer to describe themselves as Yugoslav, as opposed to Serbian, and it would be interesting to know how Ristovic described himself.

There are one or two stylistic quibbles. Occasionally in the translations there seem to be one or two unintended half-rhymes which are more noticeable in English than in a heavily inflected Slavonic language such as Serb. Generally Ristovic comes over in translation as a poet who worked in a faux naif style using an unfussy declarative sentence ...


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