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This review is taken from PN Review 97, Volume 20 Number 5, May - June 1994.

DISCLOSURES JOHN WELCH: Blood and Dreams (Reality Studios) £6.95; Erasures (Many Press) £2

Although Blood and Dreams is only his second full-length collection, JohnWelch has been asignificant figure since the early seventies, and deserves acclaim. His own aptly named Many Press has published numerous well-designed pamphlets, including several by contributors to AVarious Art, and aseries of his own, of which Erasures is the most recent. His elective affinities are with the postmodernism of the New York and Cambridge schools, though Eliot, Crane and the apocalyptic poetry of the forties have all gone to the making of his style.

In the course of Out Walking (Anvil, 1984), Welch abandons the wary lucidity of 'Treaty', written in the late sixties, for 'more consciously experimental'writing, which can mean enthusiastic Ashbery pastiche -'Girlish doors over blue gilt ribs were a/Basis for shades to surge up embarrassed' ('With A Sigh of Amazement She…'); however, for all the poet's anxiety to 'fend off meaning' ('Walking Out'), each poem contributes to a complex but well-founded interpretation ofthe collection as awhole.The avantgarde style has apersonal rationale.

In an excellent essay, which was my introduction to the poet ('A Book of John Welch', Grosseteste Review 15), Peter Robinson identifies the unifying 'conceit', 'not an image but a copu1ative verb': 'These walls/curtains, where my skin cracked with psoriasis/Joins me to the things of the world' ('Walking Out'). Yet it is an image, after all. The poet 'seems to hint that by sharing a state of dessication we come to recognize relatedness'; but there is another dimension to the ...


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