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This review is taken from PN Review 206, Volume 38 Number 6, July - August 2012.

Call and Response andrew greig, As Though We Were Flying (Bloodaxe) £8.95

Andrew Greig has a sensitivity to rhythm, alliteration, assonance and rhyme which can justifiably be described as 'Hopkinsian' (not the most fluid of epithets, perhaps, but 'Manley Hopkinsian' is clunky, 'Manley-ey' worse still). This quality, among others, characterises his latest collection.As Though We Were Flying opens: 'I mind our town's tidal swimming pool', recalling the opening of Hopkins' 'The Windhover' ('I caught this morning morning's minion'). As elsewhere with Greig and Hopkins, the interplay of alliteration, assonance and stress is similar; so too the effect of this interplay on the speed of a line, and also a fascination with memory.

But there is one important difference: Hopkins' poem remembers in the present, performatively and without self-consciousness. We go straight into the speaker's mind and experience with his speaker the act of recall. By contrast, Greig writes from a distance about the act of remembering. This is characteristic of the book as a whole: much of the poetry is self-reflective, the majority of the action happens inside the poet's head, and Greig often produces a meandering sequence of ideas: 'Call and response, response and call, / who can pronounce upon / the order of it all?'

This is a psychological book in another, perhaps more enjoyable sense: Greig is fascinated with a speaker's capacity to outline (and elicit) human response. Even where a poem appears to describe or explore something in itself (such as sex on 'those afternoons / in the purple squat, the tenement room, ...


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