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This review is taken from PN Review 101, Volume 21 Number 3, January - February 1995.

WALKING A LION TOM PAULIN, Walking A Line: New and Selected Poems (Faber & Faber) £5.99
PETER READING, Last Poems (Chatto & Windus) £6.99
HUGO WILLIAMS, Dock Leaves (Faber & Faber) £6.99

Tom Paulin describes his new collection, the first for seven years, as homage to the releasing power of Paul Klee.1f so, I'd say the Bauhaus treatment has some way to go. For Paulin seems to me to be beating the bounds of the dreary parish of his mind with all the enthusiasm of a costive man, whose 'each word strains to utter itself/like a mallety wooden turd'. Not much like Paul Klee, more like Buck Alec, a Belfast character of long ago, who towed his lion into the mythology of Ulster, toothless and mangy though it might have been, by walking it round the city every day. For all his hard man pose, Paulin, like the Belfast lion, was never much more than a glorified dog, really, sticking his muzzle into a crotch - or his tongue into ever more unsuitable places. A new poem, 'L', saw him celebrating his organ of speech and disgusting even Fiona Pitt-Kethley in The Times, with its liking for orifices such as the left nostril -and more is promised:


this tongue thing's a supple instrument
kinda decent and hardworking
and often more welcome than the penis
- too many poems speak for that member
maybe it's time I unbuttoned my tongue.


Pitt-Kethley entitled her review 'Ulster Unbuttoned' but to my mind, Paulin's Ulster persona has never rung true, despite the convincing confetti of vulgar insider-speak (geg, bake, clabber and slabber, holyer, ...


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