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

PATTERNS OF MOVEMENT ANTHONY BARNETT, Carp and Rubato (Invisible Books) £5.95

Style in Anthony Barnett's poetry is a matter of recurrent patterns of movement: as the writing shifts and unfolds from element to element it manifests in that movement a unity and coherence of vision that serves to confront our expectations of what poetry is in a unique and singular way. The poetry asks of us not so much an interpretation as an attempt to work beyond that in order to see the interconnections and relationships set up by the poet in the process of the poem itself. We need to find a stance from which to engage the poet as the act of writing defines him. This bears on our notions of identity and selfhood, since the poet has his identity in the activity of what the writing brings about, constituting himself in what he creates. It is here that the uniqueness of the achievement resides, where style becomes something that is genuine in its own right - where it rings true. Barnett's work is not a form of theatrical performance through which the creative persona projects itself for the scrutiny and understanding of an audience. When we read poetry of this latter kind we almost inevitably find ourselves postulating another self behind the self that appears. We become aware of the masquerades and fictive identities of the self as it seeks for itself through the labyrinthine displacements of language. Barnett's work is more intimate than this, and its sense of style less controlled. The question for the reader ...


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