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Showing posts from July, 2012

Review: Paul Henry's The Brittle Sea: New and Selected Poems

As the poet-critic Nick Laird recently pointed out in a review of the poet’s letters, the influence of Louis MacNeice is everywhere in contemporary poetry. His sprightly, masterly way with form and his sprawling themes – the blurring of past and present, personal and public, darkness and light – have made an impact on some of the best-known British and Irish poets currently writing. Paul Henry may be an unfamiliar name to some, but like the work of many of his better-known contemporaries, The Brittle Sea, his new and selected poems, owes much to the Belfast-born “laureate of in-between-ness”. This hefty volume takes in twenty-odd years’ worth of work, selections from five collections and a batch of new poems, yet like an intricate Venn diagram, all are linked by their abiding themes: how the past haunts the present, and how people and places change, as do our relationships with them.
Despite their MacNeice-ish content and formal bent, however, stylistically Henry’s poems are often ex…