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

THE INTENTIONIST FALLACY Debjani Chatterjee, John Lyons, Cheryl Martin, Lemn Sissay, The Sun Rises in the North (Smith Doorstop Books) £5.95
Tony Roberts, Flowers of the Hudson Bay (Peterloo) £5.95
Myra Schneider, Crossing Point (Littlewood) £5.95

The six writers under review all clearly want to be poets, by which I mean that, in their various ways, all aspire to write well. Unsurprisingly, they also illustrate the view that poems may be about anything at all. Two of them, the black American Cheryl Martin and the black African Lemn Sissay, are clearly concerned with live performance of verse, and at their best their effects are sharp and usually obvious at first reading or hearing:
Since that's not exactly my scene,
and this my bed,
you can get out of it.

(Martin, 'Doing the Dog')


… holding up your hands to calm us
you say: 'This was not a racial attack'.
                      (Sissay, 'Fingerprints')

Both call for reading aloud; both need precise timing; both write crisply. In each case the impact is immediate, but usually limited to the moment of performance.

The Indian poet Debjani Chatterjee is also included in The Sun Rises in the North. Sujata Bhatt has recently shown how distinguished Indo-English poetry can be, but Chatterjee is not in that class. The biographical notes supplied indicate an experienced writer, but she seems to lack a voice of her own and to be straining to be 'poetic'. Her rhythms are awkward at times -
A spectacular legend, a man who has no
('The Sneezeeling')


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