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This review is taken from PN Review 104, Volume 21 Number 6, July - August 1995.

TO ONE AND ALL CAROLE SATYAMURTI, Striking Distance (Oxford Poets) £6.99
IDA AFFLECK GRAVES, A Kind Husband (Oxford Poets) £6.99
SLIMA HILL, Trembling Hearts in the Bodies of Dogs (Bloodaxe Books) £8.95
MIMIKHALVATI, Mirror work (Carcanet Press) £7.95
ANN SANSOM, Romance (Bloodaxe Books) £6.95
KATHERINE PIERPOINT, Truffle Beds (Faber and Faber) £6.99

Carole Satyamurti's new volume, Striking Distance, is about private grief, televised disasters, and the uneasy relationship between them. She is wittier in the private poems of the first half. Bully-boy Death leaves his message on the poet's answering machine:
 

I'll never go away.
I'll be here, pressed against your grille,
smoked glass, net curtain of a voice,
day after day after day.


Death is energetic, but the authorial voice has a distinctively wry note, relying on frequent short lines and loose, near-conversational iambics. A woman in chemotherapy strokes her hair:
 

Perhaps because by then she had begun
To see it fall
To medical heroics.


Bad news can be animating, as Swift knew, but this is not a cynical volume. There's one distanced figure in the second - or 1V news -section, Sandra, who wants to see a pylon climber jump, but the speaker is unfailingly sympathetic, though discomfited by her own helplessness as she watches. The light battering of screen images is brilliantly caught in: 'Children come like sparrows to my table/Flight upon flight', while the speaker eats her 'rich, warm food'. The sombre public poems seem to me as successful as the private ones; in the finest, the distinction dissolves. In his Guardian review Mark Ford complained that 'Sister Ship', her poem on The Herald of Free Enterprise, lacks general and personal significance, unlike 'The ...


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