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

Cover of Cargo of LimbsCover of Grammar of Passage
Rory WatermanEndless Present
Cargo of Limbs, Martyn Crucefix (Hercules Editions) £10

Grammar of Passage, Monika Cassel (Flap) £4
In our cultural moment, we are fervently encouraged – by corporations, much of the media, some politicians and definitely not others – to focus (often superficially) on certain kinds of inequality at home, or in America. Others are routinely ignored. So, often, are the lessons we might learn from the past. And so, increasingly, is whatever is happening anywhere else in the world, however awful it might be. In this review, I want to draw attention to two pamphlets that engage perceptively and meaningfully with, respectively, fraught places and times that are not our own. We might learn from thinking about them, but these pamphlets are the work of poets, not proselytisers, and what we take from their works is up to us.

Martyn Crucefix’s Cargo of Limbs,
a long poem in sometimes disorientingly short-lined quatrains, takes as inspiration Aeneas’s journey into the Underworld in Book VI of the Aenead to depict the plights of Syrian refugees in the Mediterranean during the refugee crisis that we are now implicitly encouraged to believe has ended. The narrator is an on-
scene photojournalist who, at the end of the poem, is relieved of his camera by Andras – the poem’s Aeneas? – who is also a journalist:

I raise my camera still

he lifts his feeble hand
and by what rule say
by what moral right
does he smash it to the ground

The narrator is a coolly objective character, eye ...

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