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

WHY ARE YOU TELLING ME THIS? ROSALIND BRACKENBUR Coming Home the Long Way Round the Mountain (Taxus Press) £1.95 pb
FERGUS CHADWICK, A Shape in the Net (Peter100 Poets) £6.95 pb
ANDREA CAPES, Home Fires (Flambard Press) £5.95 Pb
ROBERT HULL, Encouraging Shakespeare (Peterloo Poets) £6.95 pb
JACQUELINE BROWN Thinking Egg (Little-wood Arc) £1.95 pb

There are times when reading poetry seems a perverse, even a masochistic occupation. It isn't necessarily that the poems are bad or difficult to understand -they're just irritating. Perhaps this is because they present themselves as private when they're really public. It's like being forced to look at a stranger's photograph album in the street. (It's no coincidence that photographs are among the most popular symbols in modern poetry:) We read about a dead grandmother, a new-born son, and think: who are these people? Why are you telling me this? We begin to be annoyed by the conventional present tense for events that aren't happening now or the conventional 'you' addressing a spouse or lover when we know the poem is aimed at us. It's true that these conventions have always existed, but we come to feel that the poet is taking them, and us, for granted. Marvell may address his coy mistress, but his wit, and his argument about life, are available toall,and the mistress, if she existed in the first place, is only a pretext for them. Nowadays, perhaps, Marvell would tell his mistress about the mole on her breast and what she said to him in the pub last night, along with many other things she might be expected to know already.

Rosalind Brackenbury writes about places. 'In recent years,' her publisher states, she 'has been travelling, moving out from a central place in Scotland to encounter other parts of the world, other poets ...


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