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This review is taken from PN Review 142, Volume 28 Number 2, November - December 2001.

APPROPRIATE KIT PAUL MILLS, Dinosaur Point (Smith/ Doorstop) £6.95

'What's happened to adventure, discovery, experiment?' Paul Mills has always been prepared to ask difficult questions - and to answer them. The poems in his latest volume, Dinosaur Point, tackle new territories and equip themselves with the appropriate kit (as opposed simply to donning the season's fashionable khaki). His interest in science qualifies him well for the adventure - and adventure it is, a British sensibility facing up to the challenges of America. In 'Poets', Mills satirises those writers who are experts in their own back yards 'down to the last pelican feather, / creeping up with bugged stealth on the mating calls /of the yellow banana slug'. This is no cheap shot: the satire is gently humorous, and the immediate reference is in fact to a certain breed of American rather than British poet. Mills himself can do this close inspection of home with virtuosity but it is achieved - sometimes painfully - as a result of his wider look at the world.

His previous book, Half Moon Bay, was already exploring America as a result of his Fulbright Exchange. 'Snake in the Sierras' spoke of California's 'dangerous, generous air' and, while there is more of that dangerous generosity in Dinosaur Point, there is also much more about the return to narrow old England. In 'Flight Back' 'minds fill up /with England again, with mud'. This is not a facile love of America over England. It is deeply (if also mischievously) questioning. 'There's the Cathedral /yet ...


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