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This review is taken from PN Review 181, Volume 34 Number 5, May - June 2008.

A ROOM TO LIVE IN A Kettle's Yard Anthology, edited by Tamar Yoseloff (Salt Publishing) £12.99

Try ringing the bell when nobody's there.
It gongs deep. You can hear
the shape of two pianos, spiral stairs, the thumbed harp
of Gabo, wheelback chairs...


writes Anne Berkeley in the poem that opens this scrupulous arrangement of poetry and prose, celebrating the unique place of art, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge. She starts a theme that emerges again and again, as poets contemplate the objects, the setting, the presence - the flipping over of one sensation into another, sound into shape, line into movement:

Gaudier's sensuous line slides through itself
knotting into eagle, monkey, fox, hen,
and cat that glares and jumps out of the frame.
                                                                 (Sharon Morris)


Ali Smith explores this theme in her 'Seven Visits to Kettle's Yard', one of several prose sections of the book which describe the formative (and reformative) experiences of encountering art in the generous, domestic, but extraordinarily simple setting: 'Out of what seems near-nothing it opens into a revelation of space.' The same thought of how this place can enlarge and gratify the senses is also expressed, more earthily, by Alan Bennett: 'It passes the test of a congenial interior, that you feel you would like the food that is cooked there.'

Kettle's Yard was the creation of one man, Jim Ede (and, one suspects, of his rather shadowy wife, Helen) who arrived in Cambridge in 1956 on a quest to find a home for himself ...


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