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

DISPLACED BY FLIGHT VONA GROAKE, Flight (Gallery) Euro 10.00

If Shale (1994) and Other People's Houses (1999), Vona Groarke's first two books, were outstanding in their treatment of what Gaston Bachelard called The Poetics of Space, then her most recent volume, Flight (2002), as the title suggests, is about taking-off in an unexpected direction. 'Home', the poet advises herself in 'The End of the Line', 'You've gone as far as you care go in that direction'.

There is a fanning-out in this new collection. Some poems offer challenging images: 'The Verb "to herringbone"' or 'Quill' seem to be searches for a greater metaphysical depth, while other poems examine Irish history. For instance, 'Imperial Measures' calculates the 'undiminished appetites' of those who took part in the 1916 Rising - although it might be said that this accomplished poem has less to do with flight and more with fight. There are relationship poems: 'Family' has a lovely delicate wit, while 'Oranges', despite its quirky appearance, plays with a dual sense of isolation. A number of poems explore lovers' passions: 'Veener' may remind some of Pablo Neruda's more beautiful work, whereas 'Snow in Summer' and 'Elm' look at the tensions and rejections between lovers.

So what direction has Vona Groarke's flight taken her? There are various images in this book: 'a lorryless/ side-road' or 'unvisited corners/ where the only sound is the turn taken by dandelions/ or a robin rustling in the aftergrass nearby', that are reminders of Derek Mahon's early poetry, and of the poetry of ...


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