PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Jamie OsbornIn conversation with Sasha Dugdale
(PN Review 240)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Monthly Carcanet Books
Gratis Ad 1
Next Issue Helene Cixous We Defy Augury Carola Luther From ‘Letter to Rasool’ Sarah Rothenberg Ashberyana Jena Schmidt The Many-Faced Lola Ridge Helen Tookey Almost Drowning

This review is taken from PN Review 132, Volume 26 Number 4, March - April 2000.

READING THE LIGHT C.K WILLIAMS, Repair (Bloodaxe) £7.95
PAULINE STAINER, Parable Island (Bloodaxe) £7.95

One of the strengths of the Bloodaxe list is the diversity of voices it represents: Repair and Parable Island are united by their evident seriousness of purpose and the high quality of their respective achievements, but they differ radically in tone and approach.

Williams' collection is the more immediately accessible of the two, anecdotal, colloquial, often defiantly mundane in its focus. 'The Cup' is characteristic in these respects, an expansive, loose-lined recollection of his mother's coffee-drinking habits:

There'd be a tiny pause as though she
        had consciously to synchronize
        her mouth and hand,
then her lips would lengthen and reach
        out, prehensile as a primate's tail,
and seem to grasp the liquid with the
        sputtering suctioning of gravity
        imperfectly annulled.

But the poem, like so much of Williams' work, is less straightforward than it might appear. The explicitly acknowledged 'loathing and despair' induced in the child by this morning ritual are importantly qualified by the mature poet's obvious and engaging relish for the texture of ordinary things. And the ordinary, as Williams repeatedly reminds us, aspires incessantly to some other condition: in 'Shoe' a white shoe left out on a sill 'tilts oddly upwards', its 'elevation' both literal and metaphoric as it transforms itself, under the poet's gaze, into a satyr, representative of a dimension beyond 'our meager world' and an emblem of 'that passion to be other than we are.'

Our ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image