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This review is taken from PN Review 131, Volume 26 Number 3, January - February 2000.

CAUGHT IN THE ENTR'ACTE DANIEL WEISSBORT, What Was All the Fuss About? (Anvil) £7.95

In a note at the end of Poems 1995-1996 Daniel Weissbort wrote: 'The memoiristic nature of my work, the endless self-interrogation, self-examination has bothered me for years, to the point of becoming intolerable. Perhaps, I was trying to get away from "I" by wrapping it up in a lot of cryptic verbiage. It seems to me that there may be a way to move beyond or outside the "I". Perhaps, as one ages this becomes possible even for egocentrics, since, like it or not, the investment in self is shrinking.' Certainly his new collection pursues this quest, as the title suggests with its rhetorical charge of self-deprecation and diminished perspectives. Many of the 128 poems here also have titles implying time and change, such as 'Still At It!' 'Temporary', 'In Between', 'Then and Now', 'Born Again', 'Feelings last longer': in one way or another they are restless measures of insufficiency which take stock of the waste and worth of a life.

Weissbort's quarrel is with the world ('the carnival of life' as one poem puts it) and with himself, and from this double argument he draws out a deal of wit and energy and achieves a surprising variety of tones. He can humour himself, or slap himself down. He forgives himself enough not to appear grandiose, mocks himself enough not to seem arrogant or self-pitying. But he never indulges himself: and many of the poems imply a failure of action, or circle round and round as if ...


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