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This review is taken from PN Review 208, Volume 39 Number 2, November - December 2012.

A New Kind of Document david herd, All Just (Carcanet) £8.96

In the prefatory 'Disclaimer' to his first collection of poems, Mandelson! Mandelson! A Memoir (Carcanet, 2005), David Herd asks a series of questions, including 'What more can I do to promote a just society?', and 'What, if anything, has poetry got to do with politics?' Seven years later, Herd's poetry continues to have everything to do with politics, but in All Just, his treatment of that theme has shifted from witty and whimsical discursiveness to an urgent testing of language and an objectification of 'Fact'. The facts dealt with in this new book have to do with movement, or 'circulation'; to promote circulation in body and space, between nations, and aurally, between languages (French, Italian, Latin, English) is necessary to Herd's goal and wish for a 'new politics'. The first poem gives us Rimbaud writing through the night, within the idealistic realm of 'Candle. Birds. Trees. Bread'. There the poet achieves

        a kind of serenity [eue'maneria, beautiful day]
The new politics which remains largely to be reinvented.

That's what it's about...
Just about, merely

But, in our twenty-first century, as Herd goes on to explore, circulation is being prevented. Nations are closing borders, especially to those 'sans papiers' (as one poem is titled), and human rights are being violated, specifically, the rights of the detainees of the Dover Immigration Removal Centre, as the poem 'Fact' makes clear. 'Fact' begins with the classic William Carlos Williams line, 'This ...

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