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Monthly Carcanet Books

This review is taken from PN Review 202, Volume 38 Number 2, November - December 2011.

An Original Under the Lid ian pople, Saving Spaces Arc Publications) £7.99

Although the title of Ian Pople's third book may not be a promising introduction - hovering as it does between semi-religious banality and daytime television-programme title - it does pose a question which refracts interestingly over Pople's poetry. 'Saving Spaces', as a phrase, is intriguingly ambiguous between describing the act of a person in preserving a place, and, alternatively, describing the offering, by a place, of some protective consolation. Given that Carol Rumens has noted how Pople's writing tends to come with a 'theological framework' which is 'extra-poetic' (here with a raft of biblical epigraphs and titular reference), there must be a reserve, then, about how much work the poems expect to pass off onto their surroundings. Might they seem dependent on the shelter of faith as a kind of well of ready-made profundity, or is the poetry - as in the former interpretation of the book's title - capable of nourishing its own wellsprings of meaning?

At their best, Pople's words can conjure acutely vivid spaces:

You were running over snow,
snow over the playing field.
Your feet were kicking up

snow in arcs from your heels.
                               (from 'The Bleachers')

The repetition and geometric imagery creates an enclosed dramatic arena from which Pople can suddenly move outward:

             ... grey skies
over bleachers, those skies
over concert halls, listening

to the end of the cadenza,
to the gathering ...


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