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This review is taken from PN Review 256, Volume 47 Number 2, November - December 2020.

Cover of Continuous ShowingsCover of Nightsongs & Clamors
Ian PopleMichael Anania, Continuous Showings (MadHat Press) £18.90

Michael Anania, Nightsongs & Clamors (MadHat Press) £18.90
Michael Anania is nothing if not prolific. These two substantial books are only a year apart and Anania’s eighteenth and nineteenth. And, although we might admire fluency, profusion tends to be regarded with suspicion. Perhaps it’s the simple pleasure of holding a poet’s life work in a small volume, in which it’s possible to observe a coherence, than carrying around a hefty double volume of seeming sprawl. As gorgeous as much of A.R.Ammons’ voluminous work is, there’s a comfort in picking up Elizabeth Bishop’s meticulously honed Collected. Michael Anania is cited in the tradition of modernism that starts with Pound, moves through Olson, Creeley and Lorine Neidecker, and perhaps rests today in a poet like Michael Teller. Sometimes this tradition is known as Objectivism; defined by Fiona McMahon as ‘affirming the need for a greater attentiveness to the language of poetry and an acute awareness of the perceptual realities that shape one’s immediate circumstances’.

Continuous Showings begins with a preface from Reginald Gibbons, which, after suggesting that Anania is ‘synaesthetic’, contains the following: ‘[Anania] makes melody and sentence and sight his primary colours, and he names them in his poems while simultaneously using them to mark the sharp edge – the precise and delicate edge – of his seeing and sentencing.’ This might be one kind of paraphrase of McMahon’s definition of Objectivism. Although there is, perhaps, some circularity in suggesting that sentence and sight mark the edges of seeing and sentencing. To some extent, as well, Gibbons’ comment rather reduces the point that there are a number of ...

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