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This review is taken from PN Review 210, Volume 39 Number 4, March - April 2013.

Hard and Pure katha pollitt, The Mind/Body Problem (Seren) £8.99

Katha Pollitt is a considerable force in American poetry. As a poet, essayist and columnist for The Nation, she has won the National Book Critics Circle Award for her first collection Antarctic Traveller, two National Magazine Awards for essays and criticism, fellowships from the Guggenheim and Whiting Foundations and an American Book Award for lifetime achievement. Her latest collection The Mind/Body Problem first appeared from Random House in the US in 2009. Seren has just released it in the UK. This is a major coup; not only does it afford uninitiated British readers the first opportunity of purchasing her book from a British publisher, but her acquisition over here augments a list that already has stature and brio. It is without doubt a feather in the cap for Amy Wack, who has shown in the last few years quite what good sense and opportunistic tact she has when signing up significant poets.

What fascinates me most in Pollitt's work is the stylishness with which she mixes exploration of the oldest verities with a very particular species of post-feminism. The result is a mix unusual in reach and one which, despite its incorporated politics, never degenerates into brittle doctrinairism. In terms of her exemplary politics Pollitt is profoundly American but tonally and formally more European - or, dare I say it, more ('You'd think they'd just been out for a casual stroll') English. What many English poets have turned into formal standard fare, however, Pollitt vitalises. She is ...


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