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This review is taken from PN Review 112, Volume 23 Number 2, November - December 1996.

GLYN MAXWELL, Rest for the Wicked (Bloodaxe) £6.95

Although both Geoff Hattersley and Glyn Maxwell conflate wit with a sometimes grating whimsicality they differ in other characteristics. Maxwell produces a range of exquisite, disturbing, intelligent and formally adept verse while Hattersley's loose forms and verbal posturing severely constrain his writing.

Don't Worry is composed in the languages of his stubbornly proletarian native South Yorkshire and the street-wise literary argot of wise-cracking tough-minded poets - William Carlos Williams, Frank O'Hara and Charles Bukowski come to mind. The interest of his work lies in the relationship forged between these two realms, which Hattersley sometimes explores with tantalising if not always satisfying effect. This provenance means that the work is schizophrenic about the literary culture it inhabits - on one hand mocking and rejecting, while on the other displaying a fascination with the power that 'Literature' seems to confer. One of the poems declares its allegiances openly -'Frank O'Hara Five, Geoffrey Chaucer Nil'. This arch challenge to tradition in the name of the popular and the American, as well as the exaggerated result, reveal much about the underlying pose of the book. Even so, a curious self-consciousness about literary tradition haunts the poems: its presence is persistently invoked. 'Jerome K. Jerome' details an embarrassment at a pub's quiz night during which the speaker mistakes the author of Three Men in A Boat for Somerset Maugham. The pub's name, The Milton, suggests that even this popular form of entertainment, settled momentarily on 'middlebrow' authors, is framed by high ...

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