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This review is taken from PN Review 213, Volume 40 Number 1, September - October 2013.

Notations of Oblivion Six Catalan Poets, translated by Anna Crowe (Arc) £10.99

may the cogs of the gears go on holding!
may pulleys and winches and belts go on turning!
………let us preserve the System

With vanishing irony, Elies Barbera stands a familiar battle cry on its head. What - no revolution of the word? Ah well. So much for genial antecedents. Au revoir Apollinaire, Huidobro and the rest! And yet. How often in this remarkable anthology, among the meditations on translation, allusions to histories both antique and contemporary, the fling and scatter of personal reaction and interaction, do we find references to defective memory? Forgetfulness, amnesia, remembrance; traditionally the stuff of novelty and change. It is one of the achievements of this book (and presumably the others in the series) that it manages at once to introduce fully fledged poets, virtually unknown in their own region, who represent in their varying ways continuity and break, prospect and retrospect. These notations of oblivion, exemplified by Barbera, situate the poetry within a wider context of European cultural engagement while confirming the distinctive feel and flavour of the original.

'Religious humanism' and 'stanzaic rigour' are terms of choice used by Pere Ballart in his introduction to describe the poetry of Carles Torner. Torner, like Gemma Gorga, who immediately succeeds him in the anthology, writes a poetry of containment. Whereas Gorga is the more intimate of the two, writing principled verse that inhabits precise coordinates between adversity and joy ('a strange whiff of phosphorus at the root ...


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