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This review is taken from PN Review 246, Volume 45 Number 4, March - April 2019.

Cover of Along Mosaic Roads
Anthony Barnett
Gathering Crumbs
Calliope Michail, Along Mosaic Roads (The 87 Press) £5
Calliope Michail’s Along Mosaic Roads is a debut chapbook from The 87 Press. What a wonderful debut it is, both for Michail and for The 87. Michail’s background is American and Greek. She grew up in Athens in a house of music: ‘the sweet plucking of the / baglama, the rumbling currents of the / cello – I trace my blood’. Currently she lives in London, where she has been studying. She has published translations of the Greek poet Haris Psarras, also UK-based. Described on the cover as ‘a series of lyrical peregrinations that chart journeys into the real and imagined spaces of wanderlust, desire, origins and memory’ – I can hardly better those words – Along Mosaic Roads consists of five sections entitled ‘Standing on the Sun’. The opening part-poem of each section is in italic. All except the last section have three more poems, with that central, italic, poem weaving through the whole.

It comes as a shock, on opening the book, to read a second epigraph from Charles Manson. It is not what one would expect. On reflection it is a not uninteresting, not entirely irrelevant, bitter quote (I’ll put it that way) more or less about travelling getting one nowhere except where one is. In that, it is a rejoinder to the humane first epigraph from Walt Whitman: ‘You road I enter upon and look around, I believe you are not all that is here, I believe that much unseen is also here.’ This is true relevance to Along Mosaic Roads. In ‘Native Stranger’: ‘I lie barefoot and shrimp ...

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