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This review is taken from PN Review 200, Volume 37 Number 6, June - July 2011.

PEELING THE ORANGE DAVID C. WARD, Internal Difference (Lintott Press) £8.05

David Ward's carefully plotted chapbook describes American social spaces, past and present, and the links between them; and it dreams various means of escape. If the note that sounds time and again is one of world-weariness, even dyspepsia, this should not put the reader off. Ward's poems diagnose the nature of contemporary urban/suburban malaise via accurate perceptions of real people.

Family is a point to which many of these poems return because, as the dedication of the collection to Ward's brothers suggests, this is 'where the meanings are', or where they begin to gather momentum or wind down into the glum realisation of unfulfilled potential. This narrator is an insomniac with plenty of time to brood and hone his observations of time's indifferent treacheries, whether these affect his own relatives or the American empire. Ward is good at suggesting the emotional impact of sleek technologies on contemporary networked generations whose world is built on the 'simple formulation': '[r]inse, repeat'. It is from this perspective or platform that older generations are recalled in well made, big-boned free verse poems that recall the forlorn, redundant characters they elegise, people who sense 'that something somewhere had been lost somewhere back in time' ('Aces and Eights'). If these elegies are as much for ways of life as for specific individuals, there are also moving and more intimate responses to Ward's parents' deaths later in the collection. 'Clothes Make the Man' is one of the few poems here that does not court ...


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