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PN Review 276
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This review is taken from PN Review 272, Volume 49 Number 6, July - August 2023.

Cover of Gone Self Storm
Tara BerginHarry Clifton, Gone Self Storm (Bloodaxe) £10.99; Lavinia Singer, Artifice (Prototype) £12.00
Truth & Beauty

I received my review copies of these two new books back in March, just before the long weekend of St. Patrick’s Day and Mothering Sunday. It seemed an unusual combination of holidays; one which, according to the woman in the off-license that Saturday, proved very bad for the sale of fine wines. ‘You don’t taste the good wine properly if you glug it back’, she said to me (a little accusatorily); ‘you have to hold it in your mouth for ages and squash it through your teeth.’ ‘Yes’, I said, as if I knew. I was in fact grateful for the image, because it struck me as an excellent way to think about reading these two new poetry collections, both of which I feel also deserve to be savoured.

I’ll start with Gone Self Storm, by the distinguished Irish poet Harry Clifton. On the one hand, the poems in this new collection are very personal; the lyric ‘I’ and ‘eye’ are dominant. The book opens pre-birth – at the moment of conception – and closes pre-death – contemplation of the end. The poems in between reflect on journeys and homecomings, on the passing of friends and loved ones, and on the position of the writer, watching the world, ‘with the eye of a stepchild’.

On the other hand the poems move beyond the personal, exploring and questioning the human experiences of discovery, aging and loss. It is a book of innocence and experience, but even the poems of innocence – birth, childhood, ...


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