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This review is taken from PN Review 233, Volume 43 Number 3, January - February 2017.

Cover of Bare GeorgeCover of Scar
Alison BrackenburyImpressions

Claire Crowther, Bare George, Shearsman, £6.50
Carrie Etter, Scar, Shearsman, £6.50
Helen Tookey, In the Glasshouse, HappenStance, £5
David Wilson, Slope, smith/doorstop, £5
Mark Hinchliffe, The Raven and the Laughing Head, Calder Valley, £7
David Attwooll (poems) & Andrew Walton (drawings), Otmoor, Black Poplar, £6
Geraldine Clarkson, Declare, Shearsman, £6.50

Reviewed by Alison Brackenbury
MANY OF US, harassed, screen-gazing, fail to be impressed by the sheer oddness of our world. Not Claire Crowther. Poet in residence at the Royal Mint Museum, she considers a George III sovereign. Above his rearing horse and ‘crumpled’ dragon, she sees an almost naked man: the Bare George of her pamphlet’s title.

Unlike the coin, Crowther is not straightforwardly impressed by the Saint:

That’s not
my story of men:

                            The skin moves on his muscle, sun
                            over down land


The authority of the poem’s voice and the beauty of its vowels create a different currency. Crowther’s writing has a riddling intensity, as in a poem based on another George (Herbert): ‘Oh but the cost a loss of made things makes.’ Her rhymes’ urgent music stays new-minted: ‘In hurt country / you cane the dark with rain’. ‘Come down, soft metal’. Crowther’s poems honour industrially ‘made things’, with her own stamp: ‘the furnace / that I say is famous for women’s work’. Though they keep pace with the Mint’s ‘one thousand blanks a minute’, her poems scrutinise the tooling for a warrior’s image: the ‘die, the bullet-headed punch’. Reviewers can rarely generalise about the impact made by a poet’s words. But at readings I have seen audience members, whose own words are very different, throng to buy Crowther’s work, deeply impressed by her condensed, quick-witted poems.

Carrie Etter’s Scar is described by her publisher as a single poem, fluid as Crowther’s soft metal, exploring ‘effects of climate change on her ...
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