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Showing posts from February, 2011


Just a quick note for those interested: my review of Fiere, Jackie Kay's new book of poems and her first with Picador, appears in today's Guardian Review. It's also on Brief pieces from previous supplements - on books by David Wheatley, Anna Woodford, Brian Turner, John Haynes, Penelope Shuttle, and Dan Wyke - are also in the poetry reviews archive, here.

Review: Simon Armitage's Seeing Stars

Simon Armitage’s latest collection, Seeing Stars, is a curious departure from his previous work. The hallmark of his poetry to date – a combination of coined phrases, warped cliché and heady vernacular with an energising adherence to meter, rhyme and traditional forms – has not exactly disappeared, but has certainly dissipated. This new book is full of disorienting, freewheeling narratives that, despite giving the fleeting impression of verse in their arbitrary alignment, are more like prose imbued with poetic intensity; flash fiction of a sort. Of course, if Armitage wants to call these poems, then they’re poems. What matters is whether they succeed as such.

Seeing Stars opens with “The Christening”, a dramatic monologue in the voice of a sperm whale. Through a mixture of assured description and humour, it has its thought-provoking moments: “My song, available on audiocassette and / compact disc is a comfort to divorcees, astrologists and / those who have ‘pitched the quavering canvas…