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This review is taken from PN Review 148, Volume 29 Number 2, November - December 2002.

FEELING AND MEANING ALICE FULTON, Felt
MAURA DOOLEY, Sound Barrier

Alice Fulton's poem 'Close' speaks of being so close to a painting that one cannot see the picture - only the grainy, mechanical details which make it up:

I couldn't get away from it.
I could see only parts of the whole,
I was so close.

To some extent, this is also descriptive of reading her latest collection, Felt. Her writing style is often staccato and leaps from image to image in a rather disconcerting manner. By stepping away from the details of the poetry - from the mechanics of words - one encounters a barrage of emotion. Fulton's words are like quick brushstrokes on canvas - shaping a feeling rather than describing it point for point.

She is an intensely intimate poet - choosing to use personal rather than common experiences to convey her feelings. In recognition of this, she chastises herself for attributing her own feelings to the birds of the dawn chorus:

No wait. Time out and whoa. There I go
coating the birds' tones with emotion,
hearing them as my own. I know, I know.

Fulton is not an easy poet to assess - her poetry is so bound up in her life that to criticise it feels like criticising the woman, her opinions and feelings. She is no coffee-table poet, but one to read at midnight with your hands wrapped around a brandy glass. She says ...


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