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This review is taken from PN Review 171, Volume 33 Number 1, September - October 2006.

SPOKEN BACK TO US RUTGER KOPLAND , What Water Left Behind (Waxwing Press) £7.95
TATIANA VOLTSKAIA , Cicada (Bloodaxe) £8.95
TUA FORSSTROM , I Studied Once at a Wonderful Faculty (Bloodaxe) £8.95

 Rutger Kopland published his first collection of poetry in 1966. Since then he has received many accolades, including in 1988 the most prestigious award in Dutch letters, the P.C. Hooft prize. He worked for many years as a biological psychiatrist with a special interest in the significance of sleep and his poetry, from the outset, has combined a clear, scientific objectivism with questions about how the broader range of human experience might be rendered. The effect, as can be seen here, has been to produce a body of work of astonishing wit, range, verve and tenacity in which the stuff of everyday life is atomised, reduced to its basic parts, and then transformed, ‘spoken back to us’ in a poetry that expresses the complex nature of our lives and the almost untenable fragility of the world around us. Familiar themes indeed, but that this is done with a light touch and with such immense warmth and humour is a singular achievement. Consider this:

 The earliest scientists already thought that
 we are inhabited by the soul

 somewhere our bodies should be what
 they are but at the same time should be
 something unimaginably different

 solid evidence has now shown
 that this is the case

 the loveliest machines were used to see
 where and when our molecules change
 into something as fleeting as perhaps
 a happy memory

 and where and when that memory ...

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