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This review is taken from PN Review 92, Volume 19 Number 6, July - August 1993.

HELLO W.S. Graham, Aimed at Nobody: Poems from Notebooks, (Faber & Faber) £5.99 pb
Charles Tomlinson, The Door in The Wall, (OUP) £6.99 pb
D.M. Thomas, The Puberty Tree: New and Selected Poems, (Bloodaxe Books) £8.95 pb

Aimed at Nobody is assembled from poems 'either discarded or left incomplete' in W.S. Graham's notebooks and worksheets, mainly from the late 1960s and early 70s. But it delivers more than this seems to promise: it is a substantial collection of achieved poems that chart, as much as his publicly offered collections, his lifelong struggle to find the most telling embodiments of his primary concerns: language, loneliness and identity. In his first major collection, The Nightfishing (1955), a panoply of Apocalyptic language and imagery cloaked rather than revealed the cold terrors at the heart of his vision. In subsequent collections, for which a number of the poems here were drafts, he closes in steadily on these concerns, which he shared with other writers of traumatised post-war Europe, and he begins to achieve images that lodge in the mind as unshakeably as Beckett's tramps under a tree. Language is no longer descriptive, but the thing itself - in Beckett's phrase, 'all we have' - and Graham's word-hewn images tremble against the pressure of silence and meaninglessness. In the poems in this collection, people glimpse each other across moorland, call to each other across cold lochs, send ripples fading from their oars as they attempt, as in a dream of frustration, to row across dark waters to a figure that never draws nearer.

Even when something like contact is made, the distances created by consciousness and self-doubt seem uncrossable:
Hello. You are a new one.

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