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

TIME WATCH ULLI FREER, Speakbright Leap Passwood (Salt)
IAN DAVIDSON, At a Stretch (Shearsman Books) £8.95
Harsh (Spectacular Diseases) £7.50

Ulli Freer's poetry seems to patter on and on, like rainfall, or perhaps like the London borough of Barnet municipal water supplies being emptied into a pool of mighty Koi carp outside my window: passing gone turned pages of many books, phrases grabbed at, returned to mobile shelving; a few good words coming back later to be euphoniously reordered in these marching columns. Speakbright Leap Passwood is selected from twenty years of his work, and in it Freer witnesses something of the whole parade - Thatcherism is supplanted by Majorism is supplanted by Blairism. Did I miss anything? He speaks bright - a trippy alliterativeness and a pleasure in rhyme for its own sake - makes leaps of sparked connection - or disconnection - and reveals the secret password that will enable us to pass safely through these dark woods into a glittering future.

`Rushlight' takes its title and its bearings from Ezra Pound (`a little light like rushlight to lead us back to splendor'), mixing economics and blah blah as it swoops low over a country devastated by Thatcherism:

& the remaining land
plotted on maps
landowners of their estates
into their mouths
completely strips them
a passing cloud
of dead weight riches
compass a stabbing gesture of north
and south divided

The book abruptly switches to italics a third of the way in, as though the remainder is all one quoted ...


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