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This review is taken from PN Review 199, Volume 37 Number 5, May - June 2011.

QU'EST CE QU'IL DIT? JEREMY OVER, Deceiving Wild Creatures Carcanet) £9.95
MATTHEW WELTON, We needed coffee but...(Carcanet) £9.95

In Opus Posthumus, Wallace Stevens remarks that 'reality is a cliché from which we escape by metaphor'. Jeremy Over and Matthew Welton reconstitute Stevens's gnomic statement; metaphor, with its suggestion of an alternative sphere of understanding from the habitual, is not quite what they appear to think will renovate the real. Rather, their poetry - so far as one can speak of them together - stands within what they take to be the real, often seeing poetry itself, and poetic tradition, as the cliché. This entails an adaptation of a 'postmodern' emphasis on the arbitrariness of language as a paradigm for the randomness of ... well, everything. And, as both of these decidedly 'un-mainstream' poets are both no doubt aware, 'poetry' is a cliché from which the poet escapes at his or her own risk; both books take risks, sometimes daredevil, with a mainstream audience's notion of 'poetry'. Over is often playfully iconoclastic; Welton is often confrontational, like an Oulipo surrealist.

Jeremy Over's poem 'Whip Tim Kelly' won the first prize in the BBC's Wildlife Poetry Competition of 2002; included in Deceiving Wild Creatures, his second collection, it opens thus:

Bipple-be-witsy-diddle
One, two, three, four, six,
Qu'est ce qu'il dit?
Ra-vi-ol-i
Qu'est ce qu'il dit?
Po-ta-to chip

Over's is often an ostentatiously riotous poetry, whose effect is not one of linguistic density but is rather, for want of a better word, cognitive. Which is to say, ...


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