PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
PNR266 Now Available
The latest issue of PN Review is now available to read online. read more
Most Read... Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
M. Wynn ThomasThe Other Side of the Hedge
(PN Review 239)
Jamie OsbornIn conversation with Sasha Dugdale
(PN Review 240)
Drew MilneTom Raworth’s Writing ‘present past improved’: Tom Raworth’s Writing
(PN Review 236)
Next Issue Stav Poleg Running Between Languages Jeffrey Meyers on Mr W.H. (Auden) Miles Burrows The Critic as Cleaning Lady Timothy Ades translates Brecht, Karen Leeder translates Ulrike Almut Sandig
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
PN Review New Issue

This review is taken from PN Review 266, Volume 48 Number 6, July - August 2022.

Cover of Link: Poet and World
Kathryn MarisVona Groarke, Link: Poet and World (Gallery Press) £12.50
In a moment of ontological despair, while walking along cliffs near Duino Castle, Rilke heard a voice say, ‘Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels’ hierarchies?’ I have heard my own version of that voice while writing a poem, minus the religious fervor. It’s the voice that asks, ‘Who will ‘hear’ this poem?’ or even, ‘Who will care?’ (The ‘who’ is a figure of speech, as in ‘probably five people will read this poem’; but it’s also a literal ‘who’, as in ‘who specifically will pass judgment?’). It is the voice of lyric doubt.

If I’ve placed a banana peel under Rilke’s impassioned lines to make a crude point, it’s because I want to make a second crude point. When I upend the hyper-lyricism of Rilke’s earnest and spiritual cry for help, I also upend the so-called sincerity of Rilke’s poem.

These two ideas – lyric doubt and sincerity – are central to Vona Groarke’s eighth poetry collection. Link: Poet and World examines the relationship between the lyric I and the Other, using a celestial body called ‘World’ (in contrast to Rilke’s unspeaking angels) as mediator.

World lodges himself in the poet’s house during the lockdown. He is paternal, mischievous and old-school – a cross between a tough Film Noir protagonist (he addresses the poet with the affectionate pet name ‘Irish’) and a toff who dons a claret-coloured smoking jacket and perfectly pleated trousers. He has a touch of the gangster too: his garish ring has a red stone that draws blood. That World comes across as a fantasy composite of twentieth-century stock male screen ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image