PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Kei Millerthe Fat Black Woman
In Praise of the Fat Black Woman & Volume

(PN Review 241)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Next Issue Jen Schmitt on Ekphrasis Rachel Hadas on Text and Pandemic Kirsty Gunn Essaying two Jee Leong Koh Palinodes in the Voice of my Dead Father Maureen Mclane Correspondent Breeze
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
Monthly Carcanet Books
PN Review Blog

This review is taken from PN Review 149, Volume 29 Number 3, January - February 2003.

NICE ENOUGH PAUL FARLEY, The Ice Age (Picador) £7.99

It might have begun with Edward Thomas sitting on a train that stopped at Adlestrop but poets obviously find time to reflect while travelling, with scenery to reflect upon, and even if I've done it myself, it might be time to wonder if the technique isn't becoming a little jaded. Paul Farley not only imitates the Larkinesque 'Whitsun Weddings' journey but uses his 'postal districts' phrase, too. There's no law against it but using such a well-known phrase from a well-known poem creates echoes that can only be distracting. Sean O'Brien has spent a lot of time in poems on trains along with we lesser mortals and so Paul Farley really needs to do something special with the idea in 'From a Weekend First', 'The Glassworks' and 'A Tunnel' to make them memorable over and above the established train journeys.

The fact that he nearly does but doesn't quite convince is symptomatic of what he's all about. The Simon Armitage, intelligent, sensitive, user-friendly middlebrow generation of which he is a good, composite example is very good at what it does, but leaves one thinking that it is not providing a strong, lasting voice. Nevertheless, there is plenty of room for wellobserved poems like these because there is much worse stuff on offer elsewhere.

Paul Farley has obviously read enough poetry to know what he is doing and incorporates his ability to find an impressive telling line on a regular basis. He has developed a style ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image