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This review is taken from PN Review 125, Volume 25 Number 3, January - February 1999.

TWO JOURNEYS ANTHONY DUNN, Pilots and Navigators (Oxford University Press)
CAROLE SATYAMURTI, Selected Poems (Oxford University Press)

Carole Satyamurti ranges widely, drawing in her poems on events in the news, on history, on literature and personal experience. She is a witty and humane writer, several of her poems trying to enter into and empathise with the experience of other people's lives, especially the lives of other women. Her poems are playful and humorous, grave and wise.

She has a light, familiar touch with language - her poems are often conversational, and sometimes quite aware of forming one half of a communication, as in 'One', a poem addressing a lost lover as if it were itself a private exchange with the absent partner:

I assume you - then
the Oh, like an uppercut.
And look
I'm talking to you.

Because these poems seldom abstract, one is always aware of the individual as a nexus of experience. In her poetry one feels the presence of a person in the world, distinct and yet surrounded by an objectivity, a private reality pressing up against and inhabiting public reality. In 'Travelling through France', she writes of being struck that 'for some, the centre of the world / is this strip of houses called Rièstard',

whereas I know it is London
or, rather, Crouch End
or, currently,
this Ford Fiesta.

While the poems drawn from her most recent collection, Striking Distance (1994), are both technically and emotionally the most confident in ...


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