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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, ...


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