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This review is taken from PN Review 44, Volume 11 Number 6, July - August 1985.

FLATTISH BUT UNASSAILABLE Elma Mitchell, Furnished Rooms, £3.00
Keith Howden, Onkonkay, £3.00
Patrick Hare, Aeroplanes in Childhood, £4.50
Connie Bensley, Moving In, £4.50
Peter Forbes, Abolishing the Dark, £4.50
Joan Downar, The Empire of Light, £4.50
Philip Gross, Familiars, £3.00. All published by Harry Chambers/Peterloo Poets, Treovis Farm Cottage, Upton Cross, Liskeard, Cornwall PL14 5BQ
Philip Gross, The Ice Factory (Faber & Faber) £3.25

There is something heroic, and at the same time a little suspicious, about the number of unsung poets Harry Chambers is able to find and publish in his Peterloo Poets series. The very name Peterloo, with its bloodcurdling echoes of the nineteenth century Lancashire massacre, suggests an us-and-them stance, a rescuing from oblivion of the anonymous worthies of the provinces who are ignored in London or callously mown down by London's sneering proxies. Not that Harry Chamber's typical poet is an embattled proletarian, but he (more often, she) is usually a representative of ignored, unglamorous and unglamorised ways of living; and perhaps the editor feels a certain anger that this is so, that the evidence of pluck and sensitivity he constantly comes up with should be so disregarded by men's eyes. So that the defiant defeat implied by his series title is not perhaps inappropriate.

Defiant defeat is a reasonable description of the mental state Elma Mitchell is best at describing: her poems are mostly monologues by stoical, uncomplaining solitaries who are on the verge - sometimes over the verge - of going absolutely batty. They are polite, they don't make a fuss and they are laconically tight-lipped (which means that the poems are in the main very short); they are clearly on speaking terms with paranoia and hysteria. The technique is a common one for this kind of poetry - we are given seemingly neutral details (furnishings, views, habits) which imply an inner life very close ...


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