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This review is taken from PN Review 169, Volume 32 Number 5, May - June 2006.

MORE MATTER, WITH LESS ART SUE DYMOKE, The New Girls (Shoestring Press) £7.95
ROS BARBER, How Things Are On Thursday (Anvil) £7.95

Sue Dymoke's first full collection, The New Girls, represents fifteen years of her work, drawing on five pamphlets and concluding with twenty new poems.

Many of the poems carry a distinct whiff of the workshop. There is even one called 'At the Creative Writing Shop' (imagined as a kind of dress shop, in which one is hard-pressed to find something fitting). 'I want something much simpler,' she tells the assistant. It doesn't get much simpler than 'Last Suppers', eight brief requests followed each time by '(Executed)'. This is clever and chilling but rather too gimmicky to have any lasting impact.

The unsentimental social observation in 'Transformation' and 'The Neighbour' are much more appealing, as is the matter-of-fact intimacy of 'Lifting the Language':

The plots were like people's lives,
endlessly overlapping. Where one ended
and another began was never clear
but you all knew,
took home snatches of each other
when the gluts occurred:
tomatoes, berries, huge purple beets.

These lines feel good and honest, substantial.

Dymoke's new poems do not mark a radical departure from what has gone before. 'Becoming Silver Birch' and 'Space Invader' (after a picture by Rothko) are concessions to concrete poetry, while 'Paper Folding' is a species of word/idea association game. Dymoke seems keen to prove that she is not a one-trick pony. Unfortunately, the result is that, for much of the time, one ...


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