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

AN URBAN PASTORALIST JOHN WELCH, Greeting Want (Infernal Methods) £6.95

John Welch's work continues to attract little attention from contemporary reviewers and critics. He is a late modernist poet whose work adheres to the maxim that poetry should be at least as well written as prose and whose base line is the simple declarative sentence. At the same time his poems resist easy closure so that individual poems seem to arise from poems which have gone before and merge into succeeding poems. Such a combination of readability, but refusal to create collections of self-sufficient verbal products has meant that he has been ignored by both the avant-garde and the mainstream. However, readers of contemporary poetry who value the art as an expression of the processes of thought, perception and feeling will find much that is compelling in Greeting Want.

It is a continuation of the writing to be found in his Selected Poems, Out Walking (1987) and Blood Dreams (1991). His newest work is in two parts, the first 'Erasures' and the second providing the title for the whole book. The first part consists of eleven poems concluded by 'Erasures', itself a sequence of short poems which bind together themes which flow through the whole of the first part. Over the last quarter of a century Welch has written with the cityscape of North-East London either as a backdrop or a dominant element in many of his poems. In these poems the minute particulars of London are observed and their potential meaning or the process by which ...


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