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This review is taken from PN Review 118, Volume 24 Number 2, November - December 1997.

HOMING BIRDS, RARE BIRDS ANNE CLUYSENAAR, Timeslips (Carcanet) £8.95
The Collected Poems of Glyn Jones, edited by Meic Stephens (University of Wales Press) £25
JOHN ENNIS, Selected Poems (Dedalus Press) £7.95 and £10.95

There aren't many short poems in Timeslips. Anne Cluysenaar's New and Selected covers large spaces, both in terms of subject matter and form. Her poetry career dates from the mid-1960s, and this volume gathers in a wide range of poems written over the past thirty years. Removes of geography are as significant as the changes of time: born in Belgium, Cluysenaar is an Irish national, and now lives in Wales. The movements between the geographical, cultural and linguistic flows of each place engage her, but Cluysenaar is also a poet of the natural world for whom its rituals, symbols and occasional brutality provide a rich vein of source material.

The business of art is another theme. Cluysenaar leans on other aesthetic forms such as Music (with lyrics and a verse libretto); Art (her nine poems based on visual materials), and other poets (her 'Vaughan Variations'). this last sequence of 23 poems, each starting with a quote from Vaughan, displays Cluysenaar's dexterity in pulling off the trick of making 23 disparate themes, and occasionally remote languages, flow gently together to create an overall effect of intelligence and daring. At times, the stuff of her own writing becomes fair game, but the self-conscious technique of admitting words like 'metaphors', 'images', and 'trochees' into her vocabulary, and phrases like 'a poem discovering itself', distort an otherwise composed poetic voice.

Her best work seems to derive from a more intimate place, and Cluysenaar's domestic poems are quite the most ...


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