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

A GOOD DAY FOR ENGLISH POETRAY TOM RAWORTH: Eternal Sections (Sun & Moon Press) £6.95

It is now twenty-eight years since Tom Raworth and Barry Hall (as Goliard Press) published Rawortlis first collection of poems, The Relation Ship. Now, roughly the same number of books later, Sun & Moon Press of Los Angeles has published Eternal Sections as part of its outstanding Classics series.Raworths poetry-the fractured lyrics of the early collections, the clear, beautifully weighted poems of Moving and Act from the early seventies, the book-length poems such as Ace, Writing and the recent Blue Screen-has always been empowered by a necessary energy which is direct and immediately contagious.

His view of the poem as meditational object, as an object in words which need not be explicated for some symbolically or allegorically coded meaning, may seem akin to views held by various of the writers often grouped under the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E banner. Indeed, as Marjorie Perloff has rightly observed, Raworth stands as 'a kind of elder statesman' to many of these writers. However, the reader unfamiliar with Raworth's poetry should not approach it expecting to find a replication of the surfaces of, say, Charles Bernstein's work. Where Bernstein's poetry seems most effective when read outside of communicative and/or representational frame works, Rawortlis poetry seems to subordinate these forms in an altogether more subtle, playful and enabling way; it is a poetry that, in Rod Mengham's words, 'continually steps outside of itself in its efforts to take on board other ways of knowing the world.'

Raworth eschews the 'difficult-as-enabling' strategy favoured by ...


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