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This review is taken from PN Review 82, Volume 18 Number 2, November - December 1991.

RIOT AND RUT Gavin Ewart, Collected Poems 1980-1990 (Hutchinson) £11.99 pb

Ewart's tone? An amiable Rabelaisian yawp. Betjeman horse-head guffaws bursting from the drawl of W.C. Fields. A Portnoy lust spoken in the accents of Old Steptoe, Auden and E.J. Thribb. With 488 pages (I jest not) of Ewart in my hand, what can I do but throw up my cap and shout hooray?

The editor tells me 1'd better do just a little more. Let me begin with one of 'The Not Exactly Haikus', titled 'Miracle':

As the preacher speaks loud against lust
the hard erect penis of God storms out of a
     cloud
and beats him into the earth.


First, the question of form. Ewart, a master of form, is mostly off duty these days, enjoying his well-earned freedom from constraint, making his scraps of poems out of table talk or head-linespeak or men's room graffiti. There is of course no intrinsic value in the form of the triolet, ballad, haiku, or any of the other forms Ewart uses, and he knows it, shrugs off the knowledge with a smile, and gets on with his writing. I might say: the fun is in the deconstruction. So it is. But heaven help us all if the po-faced critics get hold of Ewart. The point is that the fun (even when Ewart makes good and serious points) is in the fun. Second, the question of the subject matter. Ewart knows also that there are many things he cannot ever ...


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