Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
John McAuliffeBill Manhire in Conversation with John McAuliffe
(PN Review 259)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Patricia CraigVal Warner: A Reminiscence
(PN Review 259)
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 Gwyneth Lewis ‘Spiderings’ Ian Thomson ‘Fires were started: Tallinn, 1944’ Adrian May ‘Traditionalism and Tradition’ Judith Herzberg ‘Poems’ translated by Margitt Helbert Horatio Morpurgo ‘What is a Book?’
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PN Review 276
PN Review Substack

This review is taken from PN Review 165, Volume 32 Number 1, September - October 2005.

OPEN AND SHUT JEHANE MARKHAM, Thirty Poem (Rough Winds) £10.00
GRAHAM MORT, A Night on the Lash (Seren) £7.99
PHILIP CALLOW, Pastoral (Shoestring Press) £8.95
TAMIR YOSELLOFF, Barnard's Star (Enitharmon) £7.95

Sunday, milky blue, like the cote d'azur on a winter's day.
Bells are ringing, for life or love -
leave the window open.
                                                          ('Days of the Week')

Jehane Markham's discreetly titled Thirty Poems are tender and inviting. The heightened colours of their world are brilliant as a stage-set, where even coal 'shimmers its scarlet silks'.

Markham's art can wake myth, as in her deft 'song' to Hermes, the messenger god, 'Pretty as a girl / Quiet as a cat.' Her more freewheeling poems often end with the surprise of final rhyme, a confident cast into the reader's mind. Sometimes a long sing-song line relaxes, and the fish escapes. But more often, her closing rhymes reel the reader, and the poem, securely in.

Markham's airy lines are strong enough to carry a freight of sorrow. These civilised and hospitable poems bravely admit that life sometimes refuses their longing invitations, as in 'Frank Sinatra': 'to be carried, to be carried in your arms. / But there was nobody there.'

There are unusual watchers in Graham Mort's landscapes. In 'Distance', by troubled lovers, 'a cat / woos pigeons with disingenuous charm.' I admired these poems' sideways glance at the world. I also admired their sudden illuminations, such as the boilerman's final triumph in 'Myson Midas': 'a ghost-flame lit his worn, angelic face.'

Mort seems to me at his best in the short, ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image