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This review is taken from PN Review 263, Volume 48 Number 3, January - February 2022.

Cover of Litanies
Rory WatermanI Say Heart
Naush Sabah, Litanies (Guillemot Press) £8
Suzannah V. Evans, Brightwork (Guillemot Press) £6
Diana Hendry, Where I Was (Mariscat Press, 2020) £6
I focus here on themed pamphlets. Each is very different but contains around twenty-five to thirty pages of poems: these are fairly sizeable publications, examples almost of a mid-length form between the book and what once would have been the ‘standard’ pamphlet, though of an increasingly common length for the medium. I do not favour absolutes, but too often, what might have been a successful themed pamphlet appears to have been bloated into a full-length collection with patently less successful poems, and increasingly I am convinced that around thirty pages is often the perfect length for such a volume. Here are three well-proportioned recent examples by way of testimony.

In ‘Litany of Dissolution’, on the first page of Naush Sabah’s debut full-length pamphlet (following a ‘double micro-pamphlet’ published by Legitimate Snack in 2020), we read:

time has folded up into me
    I’ve been thrown by it
like a child down a hill
  standing up and brushing off grass
          to find herself a woman

The poem is a slaloming stream of consciousness, one of several here but at four pages the longest of them, and displays many of Sabah’s strengths: crystalline images and muscly enjambments, enriched by a mind at once subtle and forthright. At this point, though, you might be forgiven for thinking you’ve read it all before in a thousand self-indulgent poems. You haven’t: ‘now there’s day after day after day / disappearing’, she continues, ‘and no god in them / to hook the carcass of any hope from’, and the poem doesn’t compromise ...

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