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This review is taken from PN Review 250, Volume 46 Number 2, November - December 2019.

Cover of Witch
Bernhard FieldsendB*Witched
Rebecca Tamás, Witch (Penned in the Margins) £9.99
I was reminded, partly, of Luca Guadagnino’s film Suspiria when reading Rebecca Tamás’s WITCH. Reminded then that witches recur in the imagination, and recently seem particularly present again; a character always available for reappraisal. The witch protagonist of Tamás’s debut is multivalent: a geological being and an ecological effect, simultaneously global and local. Capable of existing both in and outside of time, she surveys human history whilst remaining ensnared by it. Among other things Tamás’s book refracts climate change, feminism, pop-culture, philosophy, art, and the occult through this particular witch’s eyes.

The book is dominated by two general types: The WITCH poems, and the spells. The former often have a casual, narrative style. Everything is heavily enjambed: rambling, repeating, meshing into itself. Tamás has a pleasing habit of rushing over images that other poets would cling to: ‘a blue void of cloud cold planets shoals of birds’, ‘clean and sharp as an equation light slipping under chapped eyelids’. There is little time for pondering, the words keep coming: a stream of unpunctuated language is fired at the reader, spat even.

The spell poems are different, they open up space. A certain kind of artifice takes over in them. For me, they contain the most satisfying moments in the book, the kind of ambient noise they make becomes hypnotic. Fragments of ‘friendly incomprehensible language’ (‘spell for exile’) create a parallel world of associations, aligned but unseen:
then        somehow
as            much snow as you could ask for
wet-gold honey and locusts
    (‘spell for ...


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