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This review is taken from PN Review 124, Volume 25 Number 2, November - December 1998.

POETRY, LIKE GREG DELANTY, The Hellbox (Oxford University Press)
THOMAS LYNCH, Still Life in Milford (Cape Poetry)
CHRIS WALLACE-CRABBE, Whirling (Oxford University Press)
PETER BLAND, Selected Poems (Carcanet)
PENELOPE SHUTTLE, Selected Poems 19801986 (Oxford University Press)

When the editor of PNR sent me The Hellbox, he couldn't have known that Greg Delanty and I grew up on the same road in Cork. Pace John Montague, the 'dolmens round our childhoods' are the same and are everywhere in these pages: Mrs Kiely, the shopkeeper; Brother Dermot, a teacher; 'The Box' football ground; Cronin's bar in Crosshaven; the Curragh Road... In his 1995 collection, American Wake, Delanty memorably pinned identity to accent with the line 'where I'm from in Ireland / home is a full rhyme with single-syllabled poem'. The Hellbox continues with a stirring apologia for 'corker Corkonian': 'but why like is dropped into every sentence when dare's nothing / to liken the like to - Ya know, like - we couldn't say'. Precisely, like.

Delanty comes from a family of printers. He uses the metaphoric potential of setting and resetting type to explore the making of poetry and the making of self. In 'Ligature', his father is 'melted down and recast in the likes of us, / each life set in its unique and sometimes fitting / fonts and distributed or flung in / the hellbox, turning up again diffused in others.' (A 'hellbox' is the bin into which printers chucked broken or worn type.)

Delanty now lives in America but his poetry continues to swoop back and forth across the Atlantic. There is danger to negotiate on both sides: the 'honeyed trap' of nostalgia, the 'blue fantasies' of 42nd Street. ...


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