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This review is taken from PN Review 34, Volume 10 Number 2, November - December 1983.

SOMETHING MISSING John Cassidy, Night Cries (Bloodaxe Books), £3.95.
Matt Simpson, Making Arrangements (Bloodaxe Books), £3.25.
Peter Didsbury, The Butchers of Hull (Bloodaxe Books), £3.25.

There is a large hand on the cover of John Cassidy's Night Cries. Its gesture suggests friendly eloquence, demotic reasonableness: somewhere, at the end of the shoulder, is a chap who'll be only too pleased to explain, and who cares that you understand. And it ushers us into a volume of seventy-odd poems; well-made, careful, intelligent, attractive, nearly all of them, in their appeal to our saner instincts to get the most out of things while still, of course, being reasonable. Look around you - here's a colourful scenario, objects for meditation, thoughts to take home. John Cassidy's poetry can make us see; which is good. But it also, often, makes us look at things through its particular resourceful, unmysterious understanding of them. Which is not bad, but neither is it, somehow, the kind of sensation that one goes back to rediscover. Crossing a road, for instance:


Eyes swivel only to cope
With immediates, with where
To put a footstep, how to clear
A coming shoulder, when to hazard
A dodging run in a blizzard
Of break creaks and wheelslip.


Rhythmically, technically, this is nicely done; the words on the page say it all. And, precisely because they say it all, we feel that something is missing. What? A ghost in the machine, perhaps; 'poetry', after all, 'should surprise by a fine excess' rather than by spot-on accuracy. This is a kind of poetry that lives ...


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