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

DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS KELVIN CORCORAN, When Suzy Was (Shearsman) £5.50
DAVID MORLEY, Clearing A Name (Arc Publications) £4.95
OWEN SHEERS, The Blue Book (Seren) £6.95
FRANCES WILLIAMS, Wild Blue (Seren) £6.95
Aldeburgh Poetry Festival Anthology 1989-1998, edited by Roy Blackman and Michael Laskey (The Aldeburgh Poetry Trust) £10.00

In the closing poem of Kelvin Corcoran's new collection, the reader is twice urged to 'Retake the republic of feeling'. The line exemplifies a clear and direct poetry in which two distinct registers of language - the political and the sensual - are in operation. When Suzy Was comprises two types of poems: careful evocations of Greece and equally careful accounts of what might be termed the matter of England. In the Greek poems, Corcoran's sensual side is to the fore as in Part 3 of 'The Roadside Shrine':

In the ouzo glass, viscous sunlight glows amber,
appears to ignite the oil without burning the wick;
light catches on the right of the frame
lending definition to its cheap detail:
neither effect is proof of anything
but the great Spring day rising on Parnassos.

In the English poems, the two registers are often juxtaposed or mingled. This is a risky enterprise and not always successful - e.g. 'Bright stations of the Tory economy / flicker a misplaced rhetoric' - but the overall effect is to suggest that this mode of observation and, indeed, poetry is a way of asserting the value of the individual consciousness. Corcoran has also thought deeply about music and rhythm as a phrase like 'the name silver, in the river flowing' makes clear. When Suzy Was deserves a wide readership.

Clearing A Name finds David Morley exploring his Roma roots. As in ...


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