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This review is taken from PN Review 260, Volume 47 Number 6, July - August 2021.

Cover of The Craft of Poetry
Ian Brinton‘Why go straight?’ The Craft of Poetry, Lucy Newlyn (Yale University Press) £14.99
In the introduction to The Craft of Poetry the teacher, academic and poet Lucy Newlyn focuses our attention upon the poetic process of ‘seeing the familiar world in new ways’. The intriguing quality of the book is that rather than providing an analysis of a range of poems through which the reader can be guided in order to become aware of the wide diversity of poetic art, from metaphor to allegory, from personification to litotes and from ode to epitaph, Newlyn presents one hundred and thirty-five of her own poems in an engaging pattern that moves us from the particular to the general. We are guided on a compelling journey in which the poems speak for themselves and in which each individual component contributes to the whole picture. We are inevitably reminded of the words from Edward Thomas which Newlyn had used as an epigraph to her deeply reflective collection of poems, Ginnel, which was published by Carcanet in 2005: ‘Why go straight? There is nothing at the end of any road better than may be found beside it, though there would be no travel, did men believe it.’ In a way not dissimilar to the manner in which the Swiss poet Philippe Jaccottet has referred to ‘ouvertures’, those rents in the fabric of what surrounds us which enable us to see a new world, Newlyn’s journey of discovery and presentation begins in the world of ‘a remembered place’ and becomes ‘a handbook guiding the reader in the art of writing/reading poetry’.

The ...

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