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This review is taken from PN Review 182, Volume 34 Number 6, July - August 2008.

POST-PARTUM DEBORAH GARRISON, The Second Child (Bloodaxe Books) £7.95

A literary editor, Deborah Garrison made a splash as a poet with the publication in 1999 of A Working Girl Can't Win. The book's poems provided a brittle commentary on the lives of nominally sophisticated Manhattan twenty-somethings who worked in culturally privileged but not well paying jobs, such as literary editors for hi-toned magazines. Rather as if Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and the City had been a pretty good poet instead of an advice columnist. Product of the decade in which they were written, Working Girl 's poems counterpoised the transitory, surface glamour of life for privileged women in the go-go 1990s with the question of whether that life was ultimately worth it for all kinds of reasons, including the emptiness of most modern office work. Now, in her second collection, The Second Child, Garrison again provides a poetic survey of her age group's zeitgeist: married and with young children, she writes after September 11 with a sense that our control over our fragile lives is only transitory and always at threat. Tellingly, although she continues as a literary editor, work is seldom mentioned in The Second Child.

Garrison marks this transition with her comic poem 'A Short Skirt on Broadway':

See that girl?
See that quick
no-nonsense
joying in itself
walk?


and looks back: 'Just so I/used to ...


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