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Monthly Carcanet Books

This review is taken from PN Review 173, Volume 33 Number 3, January - February 2007.

SERIOUS CHARM GREG DELANTY, Collected Poems 1986-2006 (Carcanet) £29.50 hb, £14.95 pb

Witnessing tears break in her face
You discovered the magic, the black magic
Of your words, no magic could take back.

Why isn't Greg Delanty, the transgressive magician of 'Thrust & Parry', one of our most celebrated poets? In part it must be a question of provenance, or of province: Delanty, though hailing from Cork, lives and works in the US. His work, too, is neither characteristically Irish, British nor American. This isn't to say that the usual concerns are missing: there are poems of place, nature, family. In a Collected Poems, even one as tightly edited as this, there's an inevitable thematic line from the more abstracted rehearsals of Cast in the Fire and Southward - 'A highdiving gannet opens any point / in the water and a circle radiates out, / verifying that every point is the centre' ('An Oil Spillage') - to The Ship of Birth (2003) and the unpublished Aceldama, both resonant with not only the birth of a son but the diagnosis and death from cancer of a mother.

Yet Delanty remains resolutely sui generis. Recently, in Poetry Review 96:3, David Morley celebrated Delanty's 'wordy bravura'. And this stylishness conjures more than mere shadow - play out of each poem. Among the best examples are the 'print - ing' poems from 1998's

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