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This review is taken from PN Review 35, Volume 10 Number 3, January - February 1984.

NATURAL ELEGISTS Robert Minhinnick, Life Sentences (Poetry Wales Press) £3.50
Mike Jenkins, Empire of Smoke (Poetry Wales Press) £3.50

Robert Minhinnick and Mike Jenkins belong to the youngest generation of Welsh poets writing in English who may be said to have established themselves in their native country. Robert Minhinnick was born in Neath in 1952 and lives now in Porthcawl. Mike Jenkins was born in Aberystwyth in 1953 and lives now in Merthyr Tydfil. Each is married and has a daughter. Each has now published three collections of poetry.

Their poems possess common factors. Both write much out of personal experience: both include, for example, poems on the births of their children in their books. Both find themselves drawn to the poem-portrait; both are a natural elegists. Both explore landscapes which, though urbanized and industrialized, still offer the inspirations of wild nature.

Robert Minhinnick at his best renders physical events and objects with a vibrant immediacy: 'So the martins soar from their high coign/And go voiceless through the air: ivy/Coils around the stone, brilliant, serpentine.' He is fascinated by regions in which the human and the inhuman touch, in which the mechanical intrudes upon, and may achieve unexpected relations with, the natural:

Behind me it continued, the chain-saw
Motor thrumming like the black and pendulant
Bell of bees I discovered in this wood,
The voice of the swarm reaching to the pitch
Of some unguessable climax, and Reilly
At its mute centre, absolved again by work.

The observed present and the ...

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