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This review is taken from PN Review 242, Volume 44 Number 6, July - August 2018.

Cover of Shrinking Ultraviolet
Joe Carrick-VartySeeing Around Corners

Eyewear Lorgnette Series
Following on from Eyewear’s 20/20 and Aviator series we have the next instalment of glasses-themed pamphlets (that don’t mention glasses anywhere, at any time): the Lorgnette Series. Ten poets ranging from established voices (such as James Brookes and Wes Lee) to exciting debuts (Matt Barnard and Rebecca Bird in particular).

Matt Bernard’s poems in The Bends look through unlikely eyes, and with a keen awareness. Be it an eel three days forgotten in a bucket, or the ‘Fat-bellied gibbous moon’, the perspective is never frozen, never stagnant. Barnard capitalises on this self-imposed freedom to look by creating images out of anything and everything, constantly reimagining and recalibrating the things within his poems. The eel is never merely an eel, it is the ‘Dark river of itself’, it is a ‘story told to the end’, it is ‘a god’ (or could be). So you’d expect vagueness, then? Generics? Scatterbrain? You’d be wrong. A kind of funnelling occurs; a great collecting and sifting; a boiling down towards a rich sediment of patchwork particularities. And the result? Coastlines with ‘dark bergs’ for islands; ‘a vision of heaven’ witnessed through ‘the cartoon-eye of the plane’; an empty house where ‘the windows are shuttered / and the washing line / is free to glint and click against its posts’. An image brimming with that perfect kind of absence; the glinting and clicking kind, so still you can actually hear the glint.

But there are weak points in the series. According to the blurb Anas Hassan’s ‘Bibi, are you living?’ ...

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