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Welcome to our reviews page, focusing on books predominantly featuring long poems or sequences.



Language Before Language: The Grid, Eli Payne Mandel, Carcanet Poetry 2023

‘The gift of tongues’, writes Eli Payne Mandel in his exhilarating first collection, The Grid, ‘is as fickle as lightning.’ In a series of eclectic verse – prose poems, concrete … Continue reading »

Purgatorio by Dante Alighieri, translated by D.M Black (New York Review of Books 2021)

Easter morning. After descending through nine circles of Hell in Inferno, the first canticle of The Divine Comedy, Dante, together with Virgil, his guide and mentor, emerges on the shores … Continue reading »

Susie Campbell, ‘The Sleeping Place’ (Guillemot, 2023) : Ruth Wiggins, ‘The Lost Book of Barkynge’ (Shearsman, 2023)

Superficially, these two beautiful and substantially researched book-length sequences are alike. Both use full-page, open-form structures. Both engage with buried histories in specific landscapes. Both also address issues of nationality … Continue reading »

The Glimmer by Shazea Quraishi (Bloodaxe Books, 2022) Of Discourse by Giles Goodland (grandIOTA, 2023)

Reminiscence and expectation In their very different ways both Shazea Quraishi and Giles Goodland write about the central importance of particularisation and they would doubtless both express agreement with William … Continue reading »

Yang Lian, A Tower Built Downwards, trans. Brian Holton, Bloodaxe, 2023: Jason Allen-Paisant, Self-Portrait as Othello, Carcanet, 2023

Yang Lian is one of the most highly regarded mainland Chinese poets writing today. A Tower Built Downwards is the fifth book of his verse, in English translation, to be … Continue reading »

Northangerland, (re)versions of the poetry of Branwell Brontë, Andrew Taylor (Leafe Press, 2022): To the Hitchhiking Dead, Khaled Nurul Hakim (Shearsman Books, 2022)

There can be few more haunting images of a lost world intruding into the present, like an emerging palimpsest, than Patrick Branwell Brontë having returned home from school to live … Continue reading »

Sandeep Parmar, Faust (Shearsman, 2022): Mary Leader, The Distaff Side (Shearsman, 2022)

If the review of these two collections were to have a title, one possibility would be ‘The Shovel and the Distaff,’ referring to the tools that provide their central metaphors. … Continue reading »

by 'Branches of a House' Agnieszka Studziñska ( Shearsman 2021): 'Origin' JL Williams ( Shearsman 2022): 'Fairoz' Moniza Alvi( Bloodaxe 2022)

Agnieszka Studziñska’s Branches of a House, JL Williams’ Origin and Moniza Alvi’s Fairoz offer three different studies in the architecture of loss and belonging. The long poem form permits a … Continue reading »

David Herd, ‘Walk Song’ (Shearsman, 2022) : Stephen Watts, ‘Twenty-Four Hours’ (Monitor Books & Prototype, 2022)

In 2015 David Herd set up the Refugee Tales initiative to draw attention to the plight of migrants subject to indefinite detention in the UK. The project campaigns for the … Continue reading »

‘Wintermoon’,  Robert MacLean, Isobar Press (2022) : ‘Winstanley’, Simon Jenner, Waterloo Press (2021)

Pathways of language adjusting the mechanism of perception. Gary Snyder’s small volume of poems, Riprap, was published by Origin Press and printed in Kyoto in 1959 and it takes its … Continue reading »

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