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This review is taken from PN Review 8, Volume 5 Number 4, July - September 1979.

DISPLACEMENTS Judith Kazantzis, Minefield (Sidgwick & Jackson) £3.00 (£1.00-paper).
Melissa Murray, The Falling Sickness (Proem Pamphlets), 40p.
Roni Keller, Keeping Up Appearances (Deiniol Press), 1 Frondirion, Glanrafon Hill, Bangor, Gwynedd, 75p.
Ian Hughes, Slate (Deiniol Press), 75p.
Randolph Ellis, The Disasters of War (Deiniol Press), 75p.

It is sometimes difficult to define the boundary between the neurotic displacement of significance and the discovery of poetically true metaphor. But in Judith Kazantzis's work it is clear that she is making use of her subconscious in a neurotic manner. Her subject matter is predominantly female (being a mother, domesticity, menstruation, etc.) but the domestic acquires an obsessive significance in her poetry. In one poem "her heart is ticking like a boiled egg"; in another the dishwasher takes on cosmic proportions: "this electric sanctuary of greasy water/its bright red oneeye says nix/but the interior seems/panicky . . . the cat stares/there is no god." The ludicrous banality of these images seems to be caused by the displacement of other completely hidden anxieties onto commonplace objects which are quite unconnected with them. It is not the familiar "boiled egg" or dishwasher that induce her images, it is she who projects her panic on to them. Not all her poems are as bad as this but the same neurotic projection runs through all her work with varying intensity, depriving it of any real awareness.

This is not a problem for Melissa Murray. Jon Silkin, quoting Isaac Rosenberg in his Introduction, suggests that she is working towards the expression of ideas which are "understandable and still ungraspable". This seems to be true of several of her poems which centre round the traditional symbolist imagery of angel, horse, ghost, mythical beast etc., in evoking "ungraspable" subconscious states of mind. But ...


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