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This review is taken from PN Review 26, Volume 8 Number 6, July - August 1982.

ONLY THE LONELY KNOW THE WAY I FEEL INSIDE Taner Baybars, Pregnant Shadows (Sidgwick) £3.50
Patrick Williams, Trails (Sidgwick) £3.50
Leo Aylen, Red Alert: This Is A God Warning (Sidgwick) £3.50

Taner Baybars's collection is dominated by '21 Days of Christmas', a sleeve-pulling sequence on the old themes of Love and Loneliness, a precis of which could sound like an idea for an Afternoon Theatre play on Radio 4. There is a narrator, who isn't named, and his wife Valerie, with whom he has difficulty making love. There's his ex-lover Sue, who lives with her husband in Dorset, and there's his latest lover, the mysterious 'K' who appears to have flown somewhere hot for good, and the cast is completed by a number of clerics and children. Of course the poems are much better than the precis, but Baybars fails in his attempt to illuminate pain and suffering by placing it in a self-consciously 'ordinary' domestic context, and the reader is dumped in front of the shop-window of a private world.

The self-centredness of the narrator is the main reason for this lack of accessibility; he strings his self-pity across the page like a string of fairy-lights and in the end Baybars's Muswell Hill becomes as personal and exclusive an emotional battle-ground as Charles Bukowski's California. There is no doubt that the sequence and indeed the book as a whole have been written by a man who knows how to make language jump through hoops, and if language is all that poetry is about then this is a good book, but for me the failure of the collection comes in the inability of the main sequence to involve ...


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