PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
Digital Access to PN Review
Access the latest issues, plus back issues of PN Review with Exact Editions For PN Review subscribers: access the PN Review digital archive via the Exact Editions app Exactly or the Exact Editions website, you will first need to know your PN Review ID number. read more
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Gratis Ad 1
Monthly Carcanet Books
Next Issue Thomas Kinsella in conversation Jeffrey Wainwright comes to grips with St Chad Hsien Min Toh gives us a Korean perspective Iain Bamforth on Lou and Fritz: Sensible Shoes meets Starstruck Judith Bishop on Love and Self-Understanding in an Algorythmic Age

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

Cover of The Tender Map
Toby Martinez de las RivasThrift, thrift, Horatio

Melanie Challenger, The Tender Map (Guillemot Press) £8.00
The purpose of a map is to locate oneself not in empty space, but in relation to an other. Perhaps also  to anticipate, mentally, the shape of a land before perceiving it in actuality; to understand its boundaries and what lies beyond them; to discover paths which might shorten the way. But, in essence, it is a study in the relationship between where one is and where one is going.

So it is in Melanie Challenger’s ‘The Tender Map’. The title is taken from Madame de Scudery’s Carte du Tendre, a visual allegory of love produced in the 1650s, showing the paths and pitfalls of the prospective lover journeying toward the beloved. Challenger’s collection is, similarly, an allegorical geography in which each poem is titled after a place, but each place carries with it a secondary title naming some emotional concept with which it is associated. Thus, ‘Suilven or Humility’, and ‘Midsummer Common or Betrayal’. We therefore have a palimpsest through which the reader views the poems as artifacts of both a physical and emotional terrain. Further, the book invites us to read in both ways simultaneously, so that the physical is invested with the emotional and vice versa, and one can only make sense of one through the other.

It is this difficulty in looking simultaneously in two distinct ways, together with the ravishing intensity of Challenger’s language which makes this book so intriguing:

Remember the suns whose singular glance
ripened and sprung us? Your eyes as my suns,
and ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image