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

Tricks of Perspective jamie mckendrick, Out There (Faber & Faber) £9.99

In Out There, Jamie McKendrick gives us the world and its inhabitants from shifting perspectives. The epigraph for this, his sixth collection of poetry, is taken from the Paradiso, McKendrick translating Dante's line as 'This little patch of earth that makes us all so fierce'. It is a nauseating trick of perspective, like Swift's satires of the human body in Lilliput, making all that we cherish and know seem small and insignificant; but McKendrick's purpose here is not satire. Rather, Out There is an exploration of forms - both poetical and physical - and the way in which our knowledge of them alters as we change their proportions, and our position in relation to them.

As a collection, Out There begins as a planned sequence, comprising mostly sonnets. In the indefinite realms of space, McKendrick uses the solidity of the sonnet effectively, posing nothingness and emptiness against the form's regularity and well-trodden literary history. It is while this conflict is in play that the poetry is most successful.

In an interview, McKendrick spoke of his poem 'Sky Nails' as both 'a building site joke' and 'a small manifesto for the way a poem can make something of nothing'. Similarly, 'Out There', this collection's title piece, is both a meditation on the emptiness of space and a parallel metaphor for the workings of the imagination. Continuing this thought, the next poem tackles the nothingness of nothing directly: into the vacuum of space and the unknown rushes ...


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