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This review is taken from PN Review 79, Volume 17 Number 5, May - June 1991.

IN THE LURE OF THE SINGULAR Child of Europe: a new anthology of East European poetry, edited by Michael March (Penguin) £6.99
Enchanting Beasts: an anthology of modern woman poets of Finland, edited and translated by Kirsti Simonsuuri (Forest) £8.95
Young Poets of a new Bulgaria, edited by Belin Tonchev, (Forest) £8.95
Tua Forsström, Snow Leopard, translated by David McDuff (Bloodaxe) £5.95
Bella Akhmadulina, The Garden: new and selected poetry and prose, translated by F.D. Reeve (Marion Boyars) £9.95

Anthologies, anthologies, anthologies - they seem to occupy more than their fair share of shelf space, and still fail to establish a significantly long shelf life. Here are three more, though presumably only one of them will be sufficiently broad-based to feature in the high street bookseller's window. Child of Europe, an addition to the International Poets series, is obviously intended to appeal to an audience still coming to terms with the events of late 1989, which looked as if they would restore the integrity of Europe as an entity, but which also threaten to generate disintegrative forces kept in check by ideology, propaganda and the repressive systems of state security. Michael March offers no particular emphasis that might serve to differentiate the conditions in any one of his eleven countries from those in any other, and there is something mechanical about the way he has chosen just four poets in every case, except for the three Baltic republics, which are each permitted only one. Minority cultural constellations as yet without national boundaries are quietly absorbed - much more quietly than current conflicts warrant - into the personal headnotes for each selection provided, far too often with a degree of flourish and extravagance that becomes tiresome, by the editor. One expects to encounter the depressingly familiar data indicating what a dissident stance exacts of its exponents, and to be confronted by a number of unfamiliar names operating for the most part 'on the other side of silence', but perilously ...


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