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This review is taken from PN Review 218, Volume 40 Number 6, July - August 2014.

Making Many Books william fuller, Quorum (Seagull Books) £9.50
kate foley, A Fox Assisted Cure (Shoestring Press) £6.00
mary o’gorman, Flames of Light (Doghouse) €12.00
The Rag-Picker’s Guide to Poetry, edited by Eleanor Wilner and Maurice Manning (University of Michigan Press) $26.95

‘Of making many books there is no end’. The tone of Ecclesiastes 12:12 is weary. But I am enthusiastic about the recent flowering of new poetry, especially in pamphlets. What are the different merits of putting poems into pamphlets, or making books?

The American poet William Fuller has published six book-length collections and many chapbooks. Quorum, at roughly fifty pages, is poised judiciously between the two.

                               Drowsy sinews
shut all five doors. Earth-shaped space
leaks from barrels. Objective senses
squat in the bursting fold

The majority of Quorum’s poems are enfolded in fourteen substantial lines: unrhymed, bulky sonnets. The last of these quotes Winstanley, the seventeenth-century ‘Digger’, who accused imagination of turning ‘single simplicity’ into a ‘manifold of divisions’. Fuller’s poetry draws its power from these contrasts: the abstract and the earthy, ‘a sumptuous disjunction’, in Quorum’s own closing words.

Fuller’s expansive lines can entrance with the body’s rhythms: ‘blood to breath, breath to air’. They can also satirise: ‘White / fire burns through […] Regulations have just been published on the melting of cheese’. The poems include tiny narratives: ‘these / lines were written in the dark’. But Quorum depends less upon story than upon the excitement of Fuller’s imagination and language. The biblical ‘Mine enemies’ jostles in the mind with colloquial commands: ‘Don’t sell’. A poem may open ‘The large rabbit […] said’, or close with a whole shock of verbs: ‘slash, swerve, jam, jump’. It is a tribute to ...


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