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This review is taken from PN Review 177, Volume 34 Number 1, September - October 2007.

MARROW AT THE CORE ELEANOR REES, Andraste 's Hair (Salt Publishing) £12.99

Sometimes, in Eleanor Rees' impressive debut collection, we know exactly where we are. In the second part of 'A Nocturnal Opera', for instance, we are with lovers in an alley, 'brick work / grain and grime' with gates, cats, dustbins and the speaker edging past 'the doctor's surgery, / my grandma's house, the bank'. But the scene is not so familiar for very long. 'Moonlight re-ignites' and there are 'monks in purple robes // processing past Woolworths', a grey wolf on the corner, and 'I can see a baby / swinging from a traffic light', 'a child / carrying an eye.' Rees' scenes are resolutely urban, more specifically of Liverpool, but only briefly are they seen naturalistically. What she shows us is an interior version of the outer world, often lurid and arresting.

In the fourth section of the same poem (the collection is distinguished by several ambitious sequences) Rees comes close to describing the nature of her vision when she writes 'marrow is all my thinking // as thinking is tired and broken / has no cohesion .... thinking thinks too much of itself'. As 'marrow' suggests, the core of experience is deep and hidden, and in the romantic-expressionist tradition it is this deep apprehension, not the processes of conscious thought, that most compel her:

The outside wells in my roots.
I drift, I sleep; wander through myself.

The nights are subtle, huge and bare.


Night-time too is the ...


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