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This review is taken from PN Review 103, Volume 21 Number 5, May - June 1995.

POTENTIAL FORMS DAVID GASCOYNE, Selected Poems (Enithannon)£8.95
PHOEBE HESKETH, The Leave Train(Enitharmon)£7.95
DAVID S. ROBB, ed., The Collected Poems of Alexander Scott (Enitharmon) £9.99

In The Varieties of Religious Experience William James concluded that

our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different.


One might describe David Gascoyne's writing career as a life-long investigation of other forms of consciousness by poetic means, an attempt to pull back the filmy screens between the rational and what lies beyond. His persistent tugging and tearing have led to the occasional unveiling and more than the occasional spot of trouble, both poetical and literal - recalling the famous incident when he tried. to get into Buckingham Palace, convinced that only he and the Royal Family could save the world, Gascoyne describes how 'A guard at the gates wouldn't let me in so I slapped his face'; on another occasion he tried to get into the Elysée to see De Gaulle, and once again reacted in the same way to those who questioned his authority: 'I was taken to the nearest gendarmerie and I was kept there for the whole afternoon. Two people from the British consulate came to try to get me out and to save me and I slapped their faces'.

Gascoyne is still often described as a surrealist, but his surrealist phase, according to this new Selected's compact section of 'Surrealist Poems' lasted no more than three years, from 1933 to ...


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