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

SLEEPING ROUGH E.A. MARKHAM, Letter from Ulster & The Hugo Poems, (Littlewood Arc) £6.95
DOUGLAS LIPTON, The Stone Sleeping-Bag, (Mariscat) £5.95
TOM RAWLING, The Names of the Sea-'Trout, (LittlewoodArc) £5.95

The extent to which'the market'dominates our lives can even be measured by the way in which the back cover of slim volumes has become a platform for all manner of pre-emptive strikes against the reader.Who reads 'a leading literary figure and poet' or 'thoroughly contemporary pastoral poet' (whatever that means) andrushes to the till, wallet in hand? When the introduction to E.A. Markham's collection begins with 'Writers from the Caribbean continue to excite us by their innovative use of language …', one is compelled to ask who, exactly, 'us' are, and whether being labelled a'Caribbean writer' is of any service to him (or us)? Although Markham was born and raised in Montserrat, it's evident that by far the larger part of him derives from his being immersed in English literature and Western culture in general. (He's lived largely in Britain and on the Continent since the 1950S.) If anything, he is that quintessential twentieth-century type of writer, the displaced exile (both internal and external) unbound by a local history, at home in literature rather than rooted in place.

Unavoidably, this leads into the thickets of debate about language, colonialism and master discourses, which matters are of continuing concern in Markham's poems. (At times, Markham seems to want to play both sides of the fence; but perhaps this is a sound' [post- Modernist' strategy …) This, his fifth collecy tion, is divided into two parts: Letter from Ulsterand The Hugo Poems, the latter 'about'the eponymous hurricane which devastated ...


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