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This review is taken from PN Review 112, Volume 23 Number 2, November - December 1996.

MARION LOMAX, Raiding the Borders (Bloodaxe) £6.95
SIOBHAN CAMPBELL, The Permanent Wave (Blackstaff) £5.99
PETER MCDONALD, Adam's Dream (Bloodaxe) £6.95

'The north begins inside,' wrote Louis MacNeice, and this is certainly the case in the first part of Marion Lomax's Raiding the Borders which is full of internal geography. Lomax's north is both a wilderness at the edge of the world and the idealistic home of the compass point. In 'Between Voyages', which revolves a Scottish memory, 'our lost north' suggests both a utopia beyond the bounds of ordinary existence and spiritual disorientation. The borders of the book's title are a more obvious metaphor and besides staking out territory in the poetically-charged landscape beyond the Tyne, they prepare us for later meditations on the relationship between dream and reality or life and death.

What is really striking about these big realities is the extent to which Lomax contains them within a tight domestic framework. After some initial scene-setting it becomes apparent that the grandiose Border is not, after all, going to be the dominant idea of these poems; time and again the elastic frontiers Lomax contemplates are simply the walls of a house. Repeatedly the topographical imagination is a response to the houses' claustrophobia. Lomax feels her dead grandmother's 'pity/for the way rooms trap us' or, coming out of a depression, experiences the joy of 'leaving a room/without opening a window'. Alternatively the house can be a secure place; 'we live trusting that the house walls hold' says 'Sunday ...

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