PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Jamie OsbornIn conversation with Sasha Dugdale
(PN Review 240)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Monthly Carcanet Books
Gratis Ad 1
Next Issue Helene Cixous We Defy Augury Carola Luther From ‘Letter to Rasool’ Sarah Rothenberg Ashberyana Jena Schmidt The Many-Faced Lola Ridge Helen Tookey Almost Drowning

This review is taken from PN Review 24, Volume 8 Number 4, March - April 1982.

ALPHABETS AND INVERSIONS Herbert Lomas, Public Footpath (Anvil Press Poetry) £3.25
Thomas M Disch, ABCDEFGHIJKLMNPOQRSTUVWXYZ (Anvil Press Poetry) £3.25

Herbert Lomas's third collection is in some respects a very varied one, incorporating classical imitation, elegy and an extended sequence recalling the poet's birthplace with love poems and social satire. In all this variety, however, one becomes conscious of a persistent refusal to allow the language to rest easily in the chosen mode, or indeed upon an image, without a colloquialism in syntax or vocabulary reminding one continually of the poet's presence. Such worrying at the poetry, whether it be sardonic or laconic, can be beneficial; the 'Elegy for John Ridgewell' sequence gains a toughness and coherence through its movement from the overtly elegaic to the colloquially observed. More often, though, the poetry is at its best when the shadow of the later, chatty Auden obscures it least. (Auden, the subject of one poem and quoted in the epigraphs of two more, is very much the work's presiding genius.) When observation is allowed free play, without recourse to self-consciousness, Lomas obtains effective results-as in the admirably plain, anecdotal 'Razmali' and parts of 'Elegy for John Ridgewell', mentioned above.

The most ambitious piece, the sequence of twenty-four poems 'Todmorden', is concerned with the dangerous subject of childhood memories and circumvents sentimentality by projecting personal history into public history with the realisation that 'Not only my childhood but the whole century/That manufactured it's over'. There are some clear evocations of Pennine industry, of the Rochdale Canal and, most impressive of all, 'of the limestone landscape round Todmorden:

...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image