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This review is taken from PN Review 135, Volume 27 Number 1, September - October 2000.

WHAT SENSE? R.F. LANGLEY, Collected Poems (Carcanet/ infernal methods) £6.95

What sense is there to make of the poems of R.F. Langley? 'So it best be away from home. / Some travel. Somewhere Sour. / So there is there. Shrewd / issue. Not yet mine', go the short, beginning sentences of the first stanza of 'Rough Silk', where it really isn't plain what one sentence, or one phrase, or one line, or one image can have to say to the one following it. The expansive opening sentence of 'Juan Fernandez' runs

As we slowly exploit the opportunities
between the jug and the earth, sky, men
and divinities, somewhere along the hold
the spring has, the ring gaining the ear
as it is picked up, the print on the bar,
the head shakes, shakes in a rainbow nexus,
shakes to see the old marks so very plain,
shakes the traps in reflection, rattles
the concentration into scrapping across
the frame, fluttering, mercurial, rabbits
vanish, turning everything into a large
form protecting the small ones, a spread
hand mothering doubts, as, now that
whoever that was has stamped past, they
wrinkle out, filling the hollow again.

and the twists and the lists, the commas and the subordinate clauses take a measure of effort from the reader just to get them into order. And when there does emerge a reasonable understanding of the grammar, even a vague grasp of the gist of ...

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