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This review is taken from PN Review 119, Volume 24 Number 3, January - February 1998.

WARMTH WITH HONOUR KELVIN CORCORAN, Melanie's Book (Simple Vice/West House)
KELVIN CORCORAN, Remember Remember (Poetical Histories) £3.50
PETER RILEY, Distant Points (Reality Street) £6.50
PETER RILEY, Alstonefield (Oasis/ Shearsman)
ALASTAIR KERSHAW and RICHARD ALDINGTON, Poems of Love and Loss (Alyscamps Press)
ALAN RIACH, First and Last Songs (Chapman) £5.95
THOMAS A. CLARK, Dwellings and Habitations (Prest Roots) £5.99
JENNIFER CHALMERS, Peat (Poetical Histories) £3.50

'Baffled by modern verse? Read on...' runs the headline to Don Paterson's Observer review of Conductors of Chaos, Iain Sinclair's recent Picador anthology of (post)modernist poetry. 'When poets flock together and go all obscure, it takes a good reader to tell the... er ... sheep from the goats' - though Paterson identifies a third category when he warms to his work: 'Okay, first the turkeys'. He singles out the gobbledegook of J.H. Prynne, 'for whom the accidental formulation of a simple expository sentence that could be understood by a reader of average intelligence would, I assume, cause him to hang himself from shame'. Okay, now the ... er ... swans? 'Peter Riley and Kelvin Corcoran have both allied strikingly individual intelligences to genuinely musical sensibilities.' Unmindful of Roy Fisher's baleful advice - 'Let the Blurb be strong, / modest, and true. / Build it to take a belting; / they'll pick on that' - Corcoran parades this loaded praise on the blurb of Melanie's Book, an extended version of the sequence in the anthology.

This is the opening lyric:

Snow has fallen all night
whiteness blurs the street
muffling incoming calls,
you can't get out, even if you wanted to.

I woke to tell you something,
dreaming of the baby
half-formed under the driven sky,
the blizzard turns about.

All our names made vague
block the roads out of town,
a tangle ...


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