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This review is taken from PN Review 247, Volume 45 Number 5, May - June 2019.

Cover of Rondo
William Poulos‘more or less everything’
Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Rondo (Carcanet) £9.99
In Rondo (a word which derives from an Old French term meaning ‘round’), Wallace-Crabbe revisits themes which occupied his earlier poems. This is not, however, meant to discount the pleasant variety of this collection and his poetry; there are still a hundred things to see before we get back home. Forms and themes adjoin to create a landscape like the diverse Aussie ones Wallace­Crabbe describes: the poems which don’t rhyme and scan sit with poems in quatrains and couplets. There is even a villanelle which undercuts the traditional pastoral theme by evoking hayfever, and this mix of the formal and informal characterises Wallace-Crabbe’s work.

What he does best is make you re-examine the things you’ve seen many times before; in the poem ‘Bits and Pieces’ he affirmed the importance of comfortable underwear (often taken for granted) and Rondo includes a poem about a sharpener, which begins:

Soft cedar turns against this blade
Coming away in aromatic flakes.
The red of a Staedtler stains an edge
Of these rising, falling petals […]

Here Wallace-Crabbe hasn’t just adorned the pencil with the characteristics of a flower; the polysyllabic and sensuous word ‘aromatic’ gives it gravity and beauty, and the slow fourth line ensures the reader doesn’t pass by it too quickly. Wallace-Crabbe shows us that the everyday is important, which is why his poetry is full of demotic diction: ‘she’s got the game by the balls’, ‘Fair enough’, ‘Get real’.

His colloquialism facilitates even his poems on ...

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