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This review is taken from PN Review 106, Volume 22 Number 2, November - December 1995.

SAVOURS PAUL HYLAND, Kicking Sawdust (Bloodaxe) £6.95
JAMES LASDUN, The Revenant (Cape) £7.00
THOMAS LYNCH, Grimalkin & Other Poems (Cape) £7.00
MEDBH MCGUCKIAN, On Ballycastle Beach (Gallery) £5.95

In 1993 the Gallery Press produced a revised edition of The Flower Master, Medbh McGuckian's first full collection of poetry, originally published to great acclaim by Oxford University Press in 1982. The revised edition contained seventeen new poems and dispensed with twelve others. Gallery's revised edition of McGuckian's second collection, Venus and the Rain, published last year, saw a similar amount of chopping and changing. Apart from the obvious fact that Gallery hoped to make some money out of the venture, the reasoning behind the revised editions remains something of a mystery, since poets tend to revise their published work for all sorts of inscrutable reasons - out of embarrassment, through indecision, or even sheer bloodymindedness. In McGuckian's case many of the 'new' poems were in fact pieces that had been written earlier but which had not been included in the OUP editions: an example of what one might call the 'waste not, want not' prindple of revisionism. Unfortunately, from the evidence of the revised edition of On Ballycastle Beach (first published by OUP in 1988) it seems that the bottom drawer is now empty, and that Gallery's ambitious revisionary project is running out of steam.

The revised edition of On Ballycastle Beach contains no new poems, no major revisions, nor even any minor revisions with major implications, of the order, say, of Auden's famous change of 'or' to 'and' in the line 'We must love one another or die' from 'September 1, 1939'. Some punctuation has ...


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