PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Subha Mukherji Dying and Living with De la Mare Carl Phillips Fall Colors and other poems Alex Wylie The Bureaucratic Sublime: on the secret joys of contemporary poetry Marilyn Hacker Montpeyroux Sonnets David Herman Memories of Raymond Williams
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
PN Review New Issue

This review is taken from PN Review 160, Volume 31 Number 2, November - December 2004.

DOMESTIC EXILE ANDREW SANT, The Unmapped Page: Selected Poems (Arc) £8.95

That Andrew Sant was born in Britain and moved to Australia at the age of twelve has made him poetically sensitive to the question of identity. Here, for example, is the start of `Glenlyon', the opening poem in The Unmapped Page and the one from which it takes its title:

This page is cool light and my shadow's
hovering vague shape from the window behind
defining hazed distances I've come from -
childhood, a city.

The poet, we assume, is preparing to write, and the light from the window behind his head is throwing his `vague' and `hovering' shadow on the `unmapped page' in front of him. The view from the window is similarly vague: `the nearby pre-settlement hills' are `undefined and remote'. But these `hazed distances' are not just physical; they refer as well to the poet's past, and, by extension, to Australia's history. Thus are encapsulated, in a memorable image, the principal themes in Sant's Selected: the themes of personal and cultural identity and the various ways they coincide.

The sense of not belonging, or of only partly belonging, saturates The Unmapped Page. The speaker in `Geologist in a Cave', for example, is `a million uninhabited / years from home'; and in `The Transmitters' the poet identifies (and indeed identifies Australia generally) with the electrical signals `received on TV ... visitant, dream-like, / making any dimly lit shack a home'. `An Album of Domestic Exiles' is ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image