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Monthly Carcanet Books

This review is taken from PN Review 84, Volume 18 Number 4, March - April 1992.

REAL FLOWERS Mimi Khalvati, In White Ink (Carcanet) £6.95
 
It is a dispossession, a market we are led
   to
not knowing what to barter, bid for,
   value more
than blood's red witch or the
   snowqueen's wealth …
('Plant Care')


The last eighteen pages of In White Ink are devoted to Khalvati's most recent, and previously unpublished, long poem sequence, 'Plant Care: A Poem for The Change', and the book would be worth buying for these pages alone. 'Plant Care' addresses global concerns on cultural, political, and personal levels, in a manner characteristic of Khalvati's work, but also reveals a new flexibility and confidence in structure and technique.

While, at times, Khalvati's earlier work could become rather tedious through the technical limitations of her adoption of strict poetic form, her later work shows a developing maturity and assurance in the innovative and personal appropriation of form for her own ends. In 'Plant Care', Khalvati realizes her own poetic voice with a fluidity and power of expression she has not displayed before. For example, in the second section she begins in a very intimate, conversational manner, using iambic pentameters in a blank verse form talking of the plants, cacti, she is caring for in the poem, for her mother who is away on a trip abroad. But then, unexpectedly, Khalvati moves into a different rhythm in the third stanza, employing an invented nursery rhyme mode which she also uses in other sections. Here, the created rhymes evoke, with ...


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