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This review is taken from PN Review 229, Volume 42 Number 5, May - June 2016.

Cover of Mrs Uomo’s Yearbook
Leah FritzOne for the Books
Danielle Hope
Mrs Uomo’s Yearbook
Rockingham Press
80 pages, £9.99.
Unlike Danielle Hope’s four previous collections, Mrs Uomo’s Yearbook is something of a potpourri, divided into five parts including the modestly titled ‘Adaptations’ at the end, her translations of two Italian poets, Giovanni Pascoli and Eugenio Montale. Hope has travelled a great deal and spent time in several countries, including Italy. She is also a doctor. Born on a Yorkshire farm, her knowledge of the natural world is intimate. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the other sections of this book include one on coastal places, another on trees, one on the vagaries of science, and one on – well – people.

The collection begins with a poem that makes extraordinary humane connections. ‘Exodus’ equates the heroic deliverance from Dunkirk with the harrowing escapes of refugees from Syria and elsewhere:

Sail 2000 miles, 75 years. Crossing from Tripoli to
Lampedusa, four rubber dinghies sink. Parched travellers
explain money, not drowning, is the hitch. Eight foot waves.

Conditions like slave ship Zong. Frail vessels with invisible
names ghost the deep. Beyond the Harbour Brasserie
a flag flutters on the Kent front. Empty shoes carpet the sea.

Depth of feeling underlies them all, but few of Hope’s poems are so impassioned. Some are simply observant, like ‘Brighton’, in which Hope sketches the panoply of a happy sea-resort where ‘Runners stretch ready for their half-marathon, / shops glisten on the esplanade, language schools  // buzz and bulge…’ It ends with the confession ‘…But how glum/ I feel, burgled of ...

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