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This review is taken from PN Review 175, Volume 33 Number 5, May - June 2007.

SOMETHING FUGAL TIM LIARDET, The Blood Choir (Seren) £7.99

The first poem of Tim Liardet's The Blood Choir is called 'For the seven hundred and forty ninth species of barbed wire'. It's an unusual opening - a sort of prison yard 'Au lecteur' - but it prepares the reader nicely both for the book's powerful emotional impact and for its exemplary tightness of thought and technique:

Only the rain can cling to it, snatched away
by a rumour of air thickening and passing.
Let a hand try the same, we're told, and a trap

of razors will spring and close, spring and close.
(In it, they say, the body of a jackdaw left its feet
thirty metres from its head, which nonetheless

turned to address them: '... only half of us can make it
over the wire, half in the world, half out,
though the pale gas of morning rises on either side.')

The poem plays on that visual similarity between barbed wire and bird's feet, but pursues it imaginatively beyond the merely striking image or the sorry irony of their multitude of species. It finishes, like many of the poems in this book, with an unsentimental punch: 'One side of it thrive all the indices / of hunger, the other the many sorts of worldly apple'.

This collection grows out of a year Liardet spent teaching at a young offenders' prison, and it is hardly a ...

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