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This review is taken from PN Review 59, Volume 14 Number 3, January - February 1988.

THE MIRRORED MAP Allen Curnow, The Loop in Lone Kauri Road (Auckland University Press/Oxford University Press) £4.95 pb.
Lauris Edmond, Seasons and Creatures (Bloodaxe) £4.95 pb.
Elizabeth Smither, Professor Musgrove's Canary (Auckland University Press) £6.95 pb.
Elizabeth Nannestad, Jump (Auckland University Press) £7.95 pb.
Louis Johnson, True Confessions of the Last Cannibal (Antipodes Press) £4.50 pb.
Alistair Paterson, Odysseus Rex, illustrated by Nigel Brown (Auckland University Press) £8.50 pb.
Michael Morrissey, Taking in the View, illustrated by Gregory O'Brien (Auckland University Press) £7.95 pb.

For forty years Allen Curnow wrote the poetry that other poets could respect and sensibly envy. Then as old age came close he made it plain in Trees, Effigies, Moving Objects (1972) and An Abominable Temper (1973) that in his relaxed way he was going to work harder still at cracking words (to put it in his own terms) to get at the inside of the inside; and in An Incorrigible Music (1979), You will know when you get there (1982) and now The Loop in Lone Kauri Road he has been writing the poetry that wins love, and sets other poets breaking their pencils. He is gentle, observant, tolerant, compassionate, allusive, exciting and sane, and his rhythms do things with the English language that you and I cannot do even in dreams. If I had to nominate one poet now writing in English with any true claim to greatness, it would be Allen Curnow. The poetry of his old age honours the art.

The Loop in Lone Kauri Road contains ten poems. Rhythmically they are tantalizing: Curnow likes to establish a notional syllabic count for the line - nine syllables in one poem, eleven in the next - but he reserves the right to depart from his count as often as he likes; and he knows that even behind the most unbuttoned of his cadences, such are our ears, we may go picking out an iambic metre, so he enjambs heavily, and likes to break his ...


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