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This review is taken from PN Review 30, Volume 9 Number 4, March - April 1983.

JUGGLERS Poetry Introduction 5 (Faber) £5.25 (£2.95-pb)

There is more of a family resemblance about these poets than is usual in Faber's Poetry Introduction books, and the quality the seven contributors share is I think best defined as knowingness- an undeceived, no-flies-on-yours-truly acuity, or perhaps cuteness. The pleasures of such poetry are immediately apparent-it is witty, it treats the quotidian mess of our lives with malicious accuracy, it makes us feel we are knowing too. But its attributes can all too easily be those of a gigolo-suavely complimentary to the consumer ('how clever of you to see what I'm driving at), adept at fancy foot-work, charming, glib, vacuous. The reader suspects that to hope for the voice of true feeling would be to betray the naive bad taste of one who expects her gigolo to fall in love with her.

Wendy Cope is the wittiest of the group; 'Christmas Triolet' and 'Mr Strugnall' made me laugh out loud and that surely is cause for gratitude. Her parodies of other poets are very well turned indeed; her more serious poems are less distinctly impressive. She likes to rhyme on the word 'fun'-the rhyme is ironic and has a sad cadence to it, but fun is finally what she offers; there is no other value implied to counteract it.

The knowingness of Joe Sheerin and Michael Hofmann is of a slightly different kind; their poems are recitals of bizarre events to which they, and only they, hold the interpretive key. Hofmann's cosmopolitan upbringing has ...

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