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This review is taken from PN Review 193, Volume 36 Number 5, May - June 2010.

AS FAR AS DIMMING SIMON JENNER, About Bloody Time (Waterloo Press) £8

About Bloody Time is a ‘debut’ collection, from his own intermittently prolific Waterloo Press, by a poet who has ‘come as far as dimming’, which means, among other things, that he needs glasses and won’t see forty again. At fifty not out, Simon Jenner is a poet in mid-career, whose work, for some funny reason, has just begun to see the light of day. About Bloody Time, too!

Yet, as with so much in this absorbing book, the title opens onto other, more painful and more puzzling perspectives. The upper half of the cover field is the colour of congealed blood, whilst the lower half reproduces one of Jenner’s own paintings, entitled Puzzlement (1979), a surreal but far from frivolous depiction of a Bloody Time. The foreground of a First World War battle-field is shared between the bloodstained body of a medic, the triangular prow of a tank and the figures of Winniethe- Pooh and Piglet. Tigger, bounding towards Eeyore, can just be made out below a devastated skyline, whilst in a red glare a mechanical owl dives like a hawk and a beach umbrella soars on white wings. Pooh is putting a paw to his cheek, as HUNNY spills from a jar.

Touch and taste, history and healing, are thematic in Jenner’s poetry, which is ultimately about (im)mortality and bloody Time itself, of which the modernist century is the brilliant but appalling epitome. Having served as an officer at the front, A.A. Milne christened ...

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