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This review is taken from PN Review 249, Volume 46 Number 1, September - October 2019.

Cover of Enter, Fleeing
Julian StannardChuckle Spread
Mark Ford, Enter, Fleeing (Faber) £10.99   

Enter, Fleeing, as one might expect in this collection by Mark Ford, is full of games, prompted by the ‘Shakespearian’ title, and shored up with an epigraph by Walter Benjamin, literary allusions galore, knowing conversations between poems, an ironic post-colonial consciousness, experimentation with form, as well as endnotes which are as helpful (or not) as the endnotes, albeit rather more extensive, found at the end of The Waste Land.

‘Stigmata’ comes with an epigraph from Jules Laforgue, the French poet instrumental in helping Eliot find his poetic voice. The epigraph – ‘Oh! Qui veut m’écorcher’ – who will skin me alive – implies an unveiling in extremis and reminds us that when all the fine clothing has been removed The Waste Land might be read more straightforwardly as a poem of personal despair. Here in Ford’s poem, mindful of ‘What the Thunder Said’, the poet chooses parody:
After
the jitters, after the pills and insomnia, the weeping
and flipping out, I wandered
around, feeling
flayed.

Yet behind the sophisticated mischief, Ford’s latest collection is not without its quota of pain (see, for example, the Dear Agony/Aunt section), managed self-revelation and existential enquiry.

The epigraph which introduces the second part of the volume comes from Wuthering Heights – ‘well, we must be for ourselves in the long run […]’, and in the collection as a whole this Romantic if pragmatic dictum is in some kind of argument with modernist ‘impersonality’ and postmodern ...


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