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

Cover of So Many Rooms
Joe Carrick-VartyCinematic Shopping List
Laura Scott, So Many Rooms (Carcanet)  £9.99
Many of my favourite poems in So Many Rooms deploy sequences and instructions. Essentially they are list poems comprised of keenly observed and, more importantly, intricate calls-to-action, as in ‘Buster Keaton’, a stunningly short and transformative twelve-liner: ‘Find a stone that reminds you of the moon./Hold it in your hand until it becomes a face’. The key to a great list poem is intrigue. Without intrigue the list reads like, you guessed it, a shopping list, of eggs and cheese and milk, not a poem in which images are building, ‘Blink away the colour from your eyes’, piling up, ‘see him flickering/in black and white’, transposing between one and other, ‘moving across the film/of your eye like bits of branch blown/across a dusty road’ because this is what Scott’s poems do so well, they sequence images of such veracity and subtlety, until, before we realise where we are, the house (and poem) is collapsing around us (and old Buster), ‘blessing him with its open window.’ And the reader, like our stuntman, gulps air once more. ‘Buster Keaton’ is a tiny poem. But already we see how far it reaches. How far it has come and, so typically of So Many Rooms, how far it will go – from stone to moon to face to hand to house – with Scott in the Director’s Chair.

Typical of this cinematic quality are the collection’s opening three War and Peace poems. ‘If I could Write like Tolstoy’ begins in filmic realism, with Scott on set, literally talking to us through a megaphone: ...


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