Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
John McAuliffeBill Manhire in Conversation with John McAuliffe
(PN Review 259)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Patricia CraigVal Warner: A Reminiscence
(PN Review 259)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue James K. Baxter, Uncollected Poems Rod Mengham, Last Exit for the Revolution Stav Poleg, The Citadel of the Mind Jena Schmitt, Resting Places: The Writing-Life F Friederike Mayrocker Wayne Hill, Poems
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PN Review 275
PN Review Substack

This review is taken from PN Review 241, Volume 44 Number 5, May - June 2018.

Cover of The Infinite Knot
Jane DraycottA Winning Suit
Josephine Abbott, The Infinite Knot (Smith/Doorstop) £5;
Lesley Saunders, Angels on Horseback (S/D) £5;
Katy Evans-Bush, Broken Cities (S/D) £5;
Ruth McIlroy, Guppy Primer (S/D) £5;
Maya Catherine Popa, The Bees Have Been Canceled (Southword) £7.99
A strong poetry pamphlet can make for an absorbing studio-scale unity of work, charged with all the wider vision of the artist in a space small enough to reveal detailed echoes across its framework. Josephine Abbot’s The Infinite Knot (a winner of the 2017 Poetry Business Competition) formalises exactly that potential in a set of twenty-one meditative lyrics reflecting symmetrically across a central, eleventh poem, a transformative account of a pair of swallows:

they fell together, sychnronised,
    sure of never falling,
 and took us with them. Air breathed
    through the tips of our fingers

Abbott’s fine-touch exploration of a long and close relationship finds a distillation point again in a second bird poem, about two white swans ‘symmetrical as bedside lamps’ that ‘reflect each other exactly, faithfully. // Their stillness is catching’. It’s a sequence patterned with images of water and flight and fire in a ricochet of quiet resonance whose delicacy extends even to the titling of the poems, simply numbered i to xi and back, a mirroring architecture that gives The Infinite Knot a highly personal and singular integrity.

Lesley Saunders’ Angels on Horseback (also a 2017 Poetry Business winner) is a sensuous, dramatic investigation into fragile and violent female experience: ‘In her mind she serves them other delicacies – rashers of their own hearts, diced brains, gelatinous eyes – on the plate of herself’ (‘Twelve Little Murders and a Bird Feeder’). It’s a work of impressive imaginative vitality, an energy achieved partly through the characteristic intricacy of Saunders’ imagery and feel for ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image