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This review is taken from PN Review 251, Volume 46 Number 3, January - February 2020.

Cover of A Few Interiors
Anthony Lawrence‘the other way around’
Rowland Bagnall, A Few Interiors (Carcanet) £9.99
Prior to travelling in Ireland with my son, I bought books of poetry to sustain me during our weeks on the road. Among them was the Carcanet New Poetries 7 anthology, which introduced me to a number of exciting new voices, with a highlight being the poetry of Rowland Bagnall. These poems proved to be the perfect road-trip companions as it rained almost every day, with fog so dense the landscape was all shifting shapes and shades.

The poems in his first book A Few Interiors, work like a series of entrances and exits in unmapped terrain with reduced visibility. The effect of navigating poems that often suggest rather than make implicit the details within a scene is, at first, unnerving, yet within a few pages the way to read these curious, luminous lines becomes evident. It’s as though Bagnell has offered, early on, both caveat and explanation simultaneously: ‘enter with caution, things may or may not be as they seem...’

There is a palpable sense of time being slowed to allow the narrator in many of these poems (Bagnall writes ‘ I like to think of these poems as having nothing to do with me personally, but get the feeling this is not the case’) to isolate and explore objects within a physical or emotional landscape. Film is one vehicle for Bagnall’s clever, paradoxical use of detachment as a means of locating intimacy. Take the second poem in Part One, Viewpoint, in which a scene from Hitchcock’s Rear Window is aligned with the tension of watching a skydiver ...

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