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

ELABORATE PLOTS G.F. DUTTON, Harvesting the Edge. Some personal explorations from a marginal garden. (Menard Press) £8.99

It is as a gardener, not as a reviewer of poems, that I was asked and could agree to write about this book. But because a 'marginal' garden is as personal a creation or recreation as a book of poems, one's own experience as a gardener may be no better a qualification for writing about another person's than the writing of one's own poems for the reviewing of a book of poems by a coeval. One distinction of G.F. Dutton's new book is that - unlike his contributions to scientific or horticultural journals -it is apersonal account of his marginal garden, interspersed with extracts from poems either by him or by others, especially Wallace Stevens and W.C. Williams. In his own words, 'gardening is a property of living systems: those of the garden and those of the gardener. It is almost as elusive to define as life itself; and: 'I could in fact argue that making this garden is writing a poem, and walking the paths, reading it. And like a poem, only partly composed by oneself.'

Just as a reviewer of a book of poems may be quite incapable of knowing or only guessing what kind of raw material, representational and/or imagined, has gone into the finished product - though a garden, unlike a poem, can never be thought of as finished even by its producer - my main disqualification for writing about this book may be that I have never seen - heard, smelled, touched ...


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