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This review is taken from PN Review 238, Volume 44 Number 2, November - December 2017.

Cover of Several Deer
Paul StephensonDarkness in the Context of a Snowy Romance

Adam Crothers, Several Deer (Carcanet) £9.99;
Rebecca Watts, The Met Office Advises Caution (Carcanet) £9.99
Adam Crothers plumbs the icy depths we were saving for breakfast. Querulously. With whiffs of subtext. They just happen. He drops anvils on sleeping hares and makes fists from fromage frais. And why not thump us awake with frothed dairy? warning: this is not a book about porcine sex but about holding hands with others, including the sweaty palm of Neil Young and – imagine a jealous guy starting over crippled inside – the cold palm of John Lennon.

As Crothers admits on the Carcanet blog (29 January 2017), in which he name-checks MacNiece, Frost, Heaney and Robbins, he is a poet with a penchant for preaching to particularly bored choirs, nodding to pop and complicating unbelievable privilege. Supposedly (and posèdly) he writes wholly out of love for the original while avoiding elevating us via the sacrament of stupid jokes. He wants to be on our side, cowering behind us while thinking holily and more sarcastically than we could ever think of heaven. Meanwhile, he grabs the buns of Burns and has a heart-to-heart with O’Hara.

The poet distrusts easy notions and, as he professes, ‘is with awkwardness’. He strives to strive not to force words down to his level (our level) and ruin it for himself (ourselves), having forty knowing winks as we read on about the nasal climaxes of ibises. Don’t misunderstand him: he doesn’t wish to defuse it. Like sinews ceasing to show or slow hot chocolate, it seems as wrong as a limpid limpet not to include it. All ...

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