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This review is taken from PN Review 95, Volume 20 Number 3, January - February 1994.

BRIGHT IDEAS The Faber Book of Movie Verse, edited by Philip French and Ken Wlaschin (Faber) £20.00
Chapters into verse, edited by Robert Atwan and Laurance Wieder (OUP) two volumes, $25.00 each
The Poetry Please! Book of Favourite Poems, edited by Susan Roberts (BBC) £9.99
Lifelines, edited by Niall Macmonagle (Penguin) £5.99 pb
I Remember, I Remember, edited by Rob Farrow (Red Fox) £3.50 pb
On the Edge of Silence, edited by Mary-Jane Selwood (Springbailk) £8.95
Virago New Poets, edited by Melanie Silgardo and Janet Beck (Virago) £5.99 pb
Five Women Poets (Crocus) £5.95 pb
Poetry Introduction 8 (Faber) £6.99 pb
Birdsuit 2, edited by George Szirtes (NIAD/ Starwheel) £5.50 pb
Apple Fire, edited by Jill Pirrie (Bloodaxe) £7.95 pb

So many anthologies look like editorial bright ideas dimmed by compromise, cost and the whims of the marketing department that it's a pleasure to find one which in a sense reverses this process: for The Faber Book of Movie Verse at first glance seems a cynical publisher's wheeze - uniting the firm's poetry and cinema lists, appearing in time for Christmas - but in fact turns out to be a product of dedicated filmbuffery, the kind of cranky enthusiasm that Les Murray approvingly calls 'grooving'. And, as the editors point out in a densely informative introduction, the relationship between film and poetry is an intimate and complex one: at its heart is the potent iconography of the cinema - Chaplin as world figure, Hollywood as symbol of 'dubious glamour' and 'cultural corruption' - together with the sense 'that film had fundamentally changed the way we experience the world, refining and redefining the syntax of vision, and that visiting the cinema provided a rich source of guilty pleasure'. One might add that for poets, whose transactions with the real world may be complicated, the cinema provides a sanctuary and the film a means of mediation: one recurrent theme in this book is not escapism but consolation, as writers find in film the opportunity to develop ideas and arguments which in 'real life' would be stifled or curtailed.

There are eight sections here, from 'The Silent Cinema' to 'TV and the Afterlife of Movies', and it's significant that the ...


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