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PN Review 276
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This review is taken from PN Review 183, Volume 35 Number 1, September - October 2008.

SO MUCH BEYOND ONESELF JONTY DRIVER, So Far: Selected Poems 1960-2004 (Snail Press/John Catt Educational Ltd) £10
JANET FRAME, Storms Will Tell: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe) £12
GARY GEDDES, The Terracotta Army (Peterloo) £7.95
RICHARD OUTRAM, South of North: Images of Canada (The Porcupine's Quill) $16.95
A.K. RAMANUJAN, Poems and a Novella (Oxford University Press) £13.99
C.K. STEAD, The Black River (Auckland University Press)

The authors of these six very different collections are from Commonwealth countries, and, with the exception of A.K. Ramanujan who lived in the US, they were once, or are even now, resident in the UK. Through their travelling, they have engaged, in an intellectual and poetic capacity, multiple literary communities of the former empire - moving from the periphery to a more central position, whether consciously, freely or otherwise.

Born in Cape Town but now a resident of East Sussex, Jonty Driver writes a thin sort of confessional and formal verse, but his subtle linguistic verve is attractive. He knows that 'language knows so much beyond oneself', and, though he's fond of pointing that fact out, he doesn't rub the reader's nose in it. Instead, he incorporates that knowledge into his poems, which reflect a personal history that is rife with exile and familial loss. At any time, the possibility that the poems could become melancholy and memoir-ish exists, yet Driver avoids that failing through attention to detail and turn of phrase:

Oh, Breyten Breytenbach, we take our gaols
On our backs like pilgrims, and Giant Despair
Inhabits cities anywhere airlines
Care to dump us and our lame histories.
The choices that we make are not so sure
As policemen think, and what we make ourselves
Flickers like gunfire over the borders.

His poems detail a life of struggle and alienation, a separation from homeland which ...

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