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PN Review 276
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This review is taken from PN Review 128, Volume 25 Number 6, July - August 1999.

NATURAL CHARM MARTINA EVANS, All Alcoholics Are Charmers (Anvil)

The opening poems in Martina Evans's second collection recapture the fantasies that children hold about the world around them, how they haplessly distort the orthodoxies handed down by adults:

The thing about having
a cross and chain was
you could run the chain across your
taste the metal
in your mouth.
                                           ('First Holy Communion')

One is seized by feelings of poignancy, which, if indulged, will never let go. Evans's great skill, therefore, is in knowing how much to put into a poem. She has a talent for selecting only the most resonant memories, for not over-icing the cake of sentiment. The short lines move towards their point wholly unflustered, offering the reader places to stop and turn back, though continuing to entice him further into the delicately phrased mood of nostalgia:

It came once a fortnight
and I went under the beds,
scrabbling for overdue books,
balls of fluff as big as mice
skating across the linoleum.
                                           ('The Mobile Library')

This is not, however, a book composed solely of poems inspired by the poet's County Cork childhood. 'The Outside' initially appears to be one, but the localised moment is startlingly transfigured by a physically felt blast of cosmic truth, three adjectives long and resounding in the chamber of a rare full rhyme:

Outside, the wind would knock you,
the darkest morning, ...

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