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PN Review 276
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This review is taken from PN Review 201, Volume 38 Number 1, September - October 2011.

WHAT'S IN A NAME? ANNE BERKELEY, The Men from Praga (Salt) £8.99
CARRIE ETTER, The Tethers (Seren) £7.99
DIANA POOLEY, Like This (Salt) £8.99

I find it difficult to choose titles for poems, and often envy the Russian habit of dispensing with them altogether.But the titles in these three excellent first collections seem to me unusually eloquent: a window into their works. Anne Berkeley's titles are usually nouns, briskly military: 'Hold-all (Aircrew)'. With characteristicfreshness, she addresses, not her father, but his flight-bag, repacking it with nouns, names and numbers: 'tangerines from Tripoli / still with their leaves, still cold from 50,000 feet'.

Berkeley fully understands the enthralling power of facts. In 'Vapour Trail', the plane's windows have 'gold a micron thick', and the navigator 'crouches at the radar-sweep'. Berkeley's is a clear, but darkening vision. 'Yellow Sun, Green Grass', the most innocent-sounding of her titles, is a list of code names for bombs. In a more domestic interlude, she describes her childhood at 'Revesby', in a RAF flat in a stately home. Even there, in a sinister nursery-rhyme, she confronts her enemy, Jim McKay, 'furthest hitter, best spitter'. One poem coolly considers his removal, 'A clear shot from my perch'.

Berkeley's poems radiate out, illuminating their subject: 'History's just a building where you live'. Through her poems' window she mourns, in the concise jargon of 'Nav Rad'

weep at what my father knew:
of targets.

Yet, in 'Co-ordinates', in a final shift of focus, her father receives a postcard from Odessa: 'the first time he'd ever seen pictures ...

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