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This review is taken from PN Review 189, Volume 36 Number 1, September - October 2009.

NINA CASSIAN, Continuum (Anvil Press) £8.95
RAYMOND FRIEL, Stations of the Heart (Salt) £12.99

Two wild, wild women poets and an almost always sober Scot, who nearly roasts himself on a garden bonfire, open a narrow but revealing window on to the enormous range of subject matter and poetic practice available in the English language as we near the end of the first decade of this century.

Faber seem to have begun to take on new young poets again. The Striped World presents a poet of great linguistic gifts and a flair for memorable imagery. Although the first poem, ‘Waking’, has palpable designs on announcing a new reputation in the manner of both Hughes and Heaney in their first collections, with a first line that is pure Plath, ‘Here it is again, light hoisting its terrible bells’, by the fourth poem, ‘Zoo for the Living’, there is enough to indicate that we are reading an original in the process of sloughing her influences. These are not difficult to detect: the Bible, Whitman, Stevens, Plath and Les Murray for starters. However, the sheer variety of forms and registers that Emma Jones employs and the exuberance of her language and imagery quells one’s more pharisaical critical impulses.

Jones’s greatest successes are in longer poems, which allow her to deploy strings of images in long extended sentences enabled by the most common of conjunctions. In ‘Zoos for the Living’ it is an effective device:

                                   And the ring neck-parrots
Are a cloud of wings, and the shell parrots are ...

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