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This review is taken from PN Review 87, Volume 19 Number 1, September - October 1992.

NEW ECOLOGIES Michael Laskey, Thinking of Happiness (Peterloo Poets) £5.95 pb
Isobel Thrilling, Spectrum Shift (Littlewood Arc) £5.95 pb
G.F. Dutton, The Concrete Garden (Bloodaxe) £5.95 pb
Rose Flint, The Blue Horse of Morning (Seren) £5.95 pb
Vuyelwa Carlin, Midas' Daughter (Seren) £5.95 pb

Michael Laskey's accomplished first collection of poetry, Thinking of Happiness, brings the reader into a familial, comforting world; sorrow, death, and pain do intrude, but always in retrospect and with meaning. Laskey's lighness of touch prevents his poetry from lapsing into the maudlin, while his formal skill, with frequent full and slant rhymes and often subtle, varying rhythms, engagingly brings his subject matter from the exclusive realm of the private into the personal. Family relations provide Laskey's most fertile thematic ground, with a particular focus on a parent's deep identification with his children's joys and fears or the inability of grown children to understand or communicate with their parents. In 'A Change of Clothes,' the fears of his parents' refugee past enter the poet's idyllic childhood in the form of a suitcase filled with clothes for the family and passes in English and Polish, that is kept hidden under their bed. But these provisions have lost their significance for this new generation, unburdened by the past or a foreign accent. More important was the wallet, hidden at the bottom of the case, containing
 
£25 that over the years,
needing this and that, I gradually spent,
each time really meaning to pay it all
    back.


Poems about fishing and fishermen, filled with the elation and terror of being surrounded by nature's elemental forces, counterpoint Laskey's poignant if tranquil domestic poems. 'On the Roderigo (H135) lost with all hands in 1955' ...


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