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This review is taken from PN Review 222, Volume 41 Number 4, March - April 2015.

North Atlantic Turbines The Writing Occurs As Song: A Kelvin Corcoran Reader, ed. Andy Brown (Shearsman) £14.95
ron silliman, Northern Soul (Shearsman) £8.95
janet sutherland, Bone Monkey (Shearsman) £8.95
john seed, Some Poems 2007–2013 (Gratton Street Irregulars, distributed by Shearsman) £6.50

Lyrical and light, political, personal, sophisticated but everyday, moving in its (then unfashionable) honesty about his troubled childhood, Kelvin Corcoran’s poetry struck me as fresh and new and essential when I encountered it first in the mid-eighties. It was hugely influenced by the American poets we’d both studied at Essex University, so that, although I didn’t know him at the time, reading him was sometimes like looking through a window into my own past, but with a more powerful focusing lens. Book after book of this stuff was streaming forth effortlessly from his home in Cheltenham. Who was this schoolteacher from beyond the mountains, tucked away in some lost enclave where one could speak one’s mind, where ‘articulate speech’ was ‘buried and shining in the streets’, taught by a ‘kind king’ to anyone who wished to learn it? A supreme ironist? Or just a lover of fairytales?

Almost thirty years later Kelvin Corcoran is a retired Deputy Head, and this book of essays and commentary by admirers and fellow poets has been published to explore the phenomenon, including interviews with the subject, who explains laconically that he spent most of the Thatcher decade ‘shouting at the television’. One of the most interesting pieces is by Scott Thurston, who first encountered Corcoran’s work as a schoolboy due to the coincidence of having been taught by one of his publishers at A-level. Interesting to me because he determinedly explicates some of the poems that eluded him at that age: the same ones that intrigued me. Thurston’s accounts of ...


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