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Most Read... Anne StevensonTwo Poems
(PN Review 202)
David HerdPoetry and Voice: The Urge to Nowhere
(PN Review 197)
John AshberyFifteen Poems
(PN Review 191)
Sinéad MorriseyFour Poems
(PN Review 205)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Next Issue Joseph Brodsky in conversation Anne Stevenson and Fleur Adcock in sequence C.H. Sisson at100: a symposium Rowan Williams in Wales Samuel Butler and little Desmond
Welcome to PN Review, one of the outstanding literary magazines of our time. Keep up with the many worlds of poetry in this independent and always stimulating journal. For four decades PN Review has been a place to discover new poems in English and in translation as well as interviews, news, essays, reviews and reports from around the world. Subscribers can explore the complete, uniquely rich digital archive.

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Featured Report
Letter from St. Lucia Vahni Capildeo The only way that the blueness of the sea at night could be deduced was from the blackness of the ships. Lamps, not many, burned on their tall masts. Arrayed level with each other and much too close to shore to neutralise the human sense of a vanished horizon, much too far for the average swimmer or arrow-shot, the ships brooded. The only way that the dimensions of the resting ships could be discerned was from the sway and glimmer of a few lines.

Sitting behind the raised wall, we shivered; not from the cold that does rise from the sea in that climate, St. Lucia’s, but with déjà vu overwriting our twenty-first-century awareness that these were leisure ships, merely an economic and ecological invasion. Our fear was eerie, like the reality inhabited by those who believe in genetic memory, ‘hard wiring’, ... read more
Sadness is a Beautiful Category: Wisława Szymborska
Gerry McGrath I

In a real tragedy, it is not the hero who perishes; it is the chorus…

                    (Joseph Brodsky, ‘Uncommon Visage’, in
            On Grief and Reason: Essays (Penguin, 2011))

If verse does come from rubbish, it’s for criticism to smell the roses. In contrast to the vertiginous conceits of Josef Brodsky’s poetry in potentia, Wisława Szymborska, Brodsky’s near contemporary and fellow Nobel laureate, offers a quite different, equally rare fragrance. Whereas in Brodsky poetic technique is exposed to the active presence of the reader in order to achieve restoration and redemption, Szymborska’s poetry develops according to a quite different modality in which thematic completion and formal revelation function as qualities of an extended imagination that can conceive of, but not contain, otherness.


An odd planet, and those on it are ... read more
How Much is Enough?
Sylvia Plath: Drawings, edited by Frieda Hughes (Faber & Faber) £16.99
Years ago, a friend of mine who was living in New York City was having a conversation with the host at a party when Monica Lewinsky – newly famous for the private details of her calamitous affair with a US President – arrived. When she approached the host, he greeted her and then turned to my friend and asked, by way of introduction, ‘M—, do you know Monica Lewinsky?’ My friend answered, ‘No, I don’t – although I feel as though I do.’ They all laughed. The joke, of course, rests on the fact that there’s a tipping point in terms of the amount and kinds of information one can know about another person before you begin to feel you have an intimate relationship with them, regardless of the fact that the two of you have never met.

In light of the countless biographies – ... read more
Selected from the Archive...
English and American in Briggflatts Donald Davie
ANGLO-AMERICAN poetry . . . if we need such a category at all, and whatever we might mean by it, Basil Bunting's poetry seems to belong there. His sensibility is profoundly English-not British but English, and Northumbrian English at that; and yet his techniques, his acknowledged masters and peers in the present century, are all of them American. This makes him a difficult poet. For the American reader he is difficult because the voice that speaks in his poems (and in his case 'voice' must be understood very literally), no less than the range of his allusions, especially topographical ones (and in Briggflatts topography is crucial), utter insistently an alien, a non-American, experience and attitude. For the English reader he is difficult because, line by line and page by page, his words come at us according to a system ... read more
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