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This review is taken from PN Review 94, Volume 20 Number 2, November - December 1993.

WOW CAROL ANN DUFFY, Mean Time (Anvil Press) £6.95 pb
COLIN FALCK, Memorabilia (Taxus) £5.95 pb
PAULINE STAINER, Sighting the Slave Ship (Bloodaxe) £5.95 pb
SHEENAGH PUGH, Sing for the Taxman (Seren) £5.95Pb

There is an exhilaration about Carol Ann Duffy's writing, and a huge, though never overweening, confidence that allows her to bring off effects that in another, inferior poet would strike one as hollow or cheap:

Give me a male corpse for a long slow honey-
Don't think ifs only the heart that b-b-b-breaks.

That is Miss Havisham speaking, Duffy-style. And here is one of Duffy's sadistic, sex-crazed males:

I put two peepers in an owl.
Wow. I fix the grin of Crocodile.
Spiv. I sew the slither of an eel.

He's not quite on a level with Psychopath, who ended his poem in Duffy's excellent second collection, Selling Manhattan, with 'the world's your fucking oyster. Awopbopaloobopalopbimbam.' But he's not far off.

Duffy succeeds because of her rhythmic verve (who else could have brought off an entire - though admittedly short - poem made out of boogie-woogie words, as she did in her first collection?), the audacious way she throws language about, and her humour. She does not, as so many contemporary poets do, use cliché and colloquialism inertly, as a way of insinuating that the poet is really one of the girls (or boys), street-wise, not into that old stuff about flowers and things that middle-class gits like; or as a way of presenting a completely uninteresting character with completely uninteresting things to say in the manner of Sheenagh Pugh's 'Mozart Playing Billiards':

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