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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 ...

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