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This review is taken from PN Review 232, Volume 43 Number 2, November - December 2016.

Cover of The Death of Wisdom Smith, Prince of GypsiesCover of Canyon JourneyCover of Antinopolis
Alison BrackenburyPebbles
David Morley, The Death of Wisdom Smith, Prince of Gypsies, Melos, £5;
Alison Winch, Trouble, Emma Press, £6;
Rosemary Norman, For Example, Shoestring, £9;
Todd Swift, Madness & Love in Maida Vale, Eyewear, £5;
Mary King, Homing, smith/doorstop, £5;
Paul Deaton, Black Knight, Eyewear, £5;
Stephanie Conn, Copeland’s Daughter, smith/doorstop, £5;
Judith Wilkinson & Ditty Doornbos Canyon Journey, Shoestring, £9;
Suzanna Fitzpatrick, Fledglings, Red Squirrel, £6;
Elizabeth Parker, Antinopolis, Eyewear, £5;
Geoff Gilbert & Alex Houen, Hold! West, Eyewear, £5;
Cal Freeman, Heard Among the Windbreak, Eyewear, £5
The steady trickle of pamphlets into the PN Review office has swelled to a flood! Let me aim a few quick pebbles over the stream.

The Death of Wisdom Smith, Prince of Gypsies, opens with a cascade of caravans: ‘Laverock All Alone of all the Crafters / Northward and Sherebiah of the Nails’… Ecstatic and elegiac, Romani names return at intervals, like waves: ‘of the Englands no word’. ‘Not one baker sleeps’ while supplying Wisdom’s funeral, its ‘vardos [caravans] with wheel-rims lulled in sackcloth’. Do not be lulled; there are twists in this stream. Many poems flow. David Morley’s catch the shock and spray of fresh water. I will toss in one tiny pebble of fact. This story continues. I once met a Romani Princess – on a work experience scheme. Since she had to attend funerals (and weddings) all over Europe, she had trouble keeping jobs...

But Trouble may be delicious: ‘golden light, muddy crystals, kissing cherries’. If you think, as I do, that there are not enough good poems about sex, read Alison Winch’s ‘O Kingsland Road. O Bus.’ ‘Everything’s alive: whelks, do-nuts’. Even her syntax seethes. A joyful plunge into Middle English brings ‘poppys and primeroles’ and the ‘newte […] not myne but its own self’s the leaves’ the sky’s’. The best writing about the body is generous. Like Winch’s work, it flows out into the world – which, in Trouble, also includes ‘cabbage-green’ pregnancy sickness, and the ‘milk pudding feet’ of age.

Rosemary Norman confronts age in the spare, tough poems of  For Example: ...


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