PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
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... Drew MilneTom Raworth’s Writing
‘present past improved’: Tom Raworth’s Writing

(PN Review 236)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Alejandro Fernandez-OsorioPomace (trans. James Womack)
(PN Review 236)
Kei MillerIn the Shadow of Derek Walcott
1930–2017

(PN Review 235)
Kate BinghamPuddle
(PN Review 236)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
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 234, Volume 43 Number 4, March - April 2017.

Cover of and now they range
Alison BrackenburyRefrains
Karl O’Hanlon, and now they range (Guillemot, 2016) £8;
Frank Ormsby, The Parkinson’s Poems (Mariscat, 2016) £6;
Geraldine Clarkson, Dora Incites the Sea-Scribbler to Lament (smith doorstop, 2016) £7.50;
Zeina Hashem Beck, There Was and How Much There Was, smithdoorstop (2016) £7.50;
Mark Pajak, Spitting Distance (smithdoorstop, 2016) £7.50;
Paul Mills, Out of Deep Time (Wayleave, 2016) £5;
Tom Sastry, Complicity (smithdoorstop, 2016) £7.50;
Cathy Galvin, Rough Translation (Melos Press, 2016) £5;
David Gascoyne, Anniversary Epistle to Allen Ginsberg (Enitharmon, 2016) £10; 
Thirty at Thirty: Celebrating Thirty Years of smithdoorstop Pamphlets, ed. Ellen McLeod & Susannah Evans (smithdoorstop, 2016) £5
ONE REFRAIN IN pamphlet publishing is extraordinarily high standards of production. Thanks to Guillemot Press, Karl O’Hanlon’s work takes wing from thick, foam-white pages. O’Hanlon’s poems display energy, wit and learning, as in his terse account of a scribe of the Anglo-Irish school:


                      Of what heats                              
stirred among them and caught
the branches of his script,

running wild through all thought,
the annals are tight-lipped.    


With their ‘complexities of hurried light’ and compelling rhymes, these are cryptic but rewarding poems. Northern Ireland’s conflicts, past and present, are glanced at in refrains rooted in the seventeenth century: ‘and the bold boys sang Traitor Lundy’. These debut poems hold humour in their range: the ‘hobby Vikings at Costa’. There can be no objection to terseness when it is as lovely as O’Hanlon’s couplet ‘The lover and the elegist are one, /The half-hid truth of the hedgerow’s song’.

Frank Ormsby’s preface to his poems about Parkinson’s Disease stresses that he will refrain from ‘the morose, the lachrymose’ to write in an ‘up-beat strain’. His symptoms are confidently dramatised: ‘My left arm is jealous of my right, /the one without a tremor.’ Fear of degeneration, an ‘answering tremor’ in the second arm, runs like a refrain through these poems. Yet so do more hopeful words: ‘repairs’, ‘repaired’.

Even Ormsby’s hallucinations, caused by Parkinson’s, are compassionate. An imagined spider ‘is strangely human and visible all the way’. The poems are often briskly funny: ‘Thank ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image