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

Hiding in Trees
dennis o'driscoll, Dear Life (Anvil) £9.95
jennie feldman, Swift (Anvil) £8.95
chris andrews, Lime Green Chair (Waywiser) £8.99
helen dunmore, The Malarkey (Bloodaxe) £8.95

Dennis O'Driscoll's final collection is full of longish, narrative poems that resign themselves to a universe of disappointment and disaffection. 'Spare Us', asks every stanza of that poem, 'the lilacs', 'the lambs', 'our jaundiced view / of daffodils':

[…] the spring,
its fake sincerity, its unethical
marketing strategies, its deceptive
pledges, its built-in obsolescence,
its weeds breeding like flies.

'Spare Us', in other words, being hustled into lyrical transcendence. We are sick, reads the poem, of being coerced into optimism. If there's a certain bitterness here, it might be down to the poet's abiding fear of self-obsolescence. 'Still' is a defiant defence of Dad-poetry: 'Our dress code is old hat. / Our interest in networking sites is zilch.' Throughout the collection political concerns are expressed in oblique, outdated ways, while the preoccupation with God is zealously unfashionable. Even the satire seems out of date (as though people might actually physically travel to 'Head Office' nowadays). 'How do they find time to pack…?' our narrator wonders, and 'when do they snatch the chance / to top up that stand-out tan…?' We watch as our man stops to 'fire off / an ass-kicking circular to marketing staff'. In sum, the satirist notes triumphantly, rich ...


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