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The Muddy Banks by Michael S. Begnal

– Reviewed by Peter O’Neill – There is a wonderful similitude at work in Michael S. Begnal’s The Muddy Banks, between the structure of the Point Bridge in the poem ‘1877 Point Bridge’, which opens this chapbook, and the formal composition of the poem, which is divided into three parts, each one made up of five…

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Telephones, Love Hearts & Jellyfish by Winston Plowes

– Reviewed by Simon Zonenblick – The most surreal aspect of Winston Plowes‘ collection of ‘poetry of drinks’, Telephones, Love Hearts & Jellyfish, is surely that it is not, in the strictest sense, “by” Winston Plowes. A series of strange observations inspired by pictures of a dazzling array of drinks, the collection includes collaborative sequences and poems gleaned from…

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Jam by Cliff Yates

– Reviewed by Stephen Payne – For once, I agree enthusiastically with a cover blurb: “The poems are moving, surprising and funny, sometimes in the space of a few lines.” As the three-letter title, Jam, might suggest, Yates has a gift for compression. He shares with his publisher, Peter Sansom, an ear for the economy of spoken syntax,…

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Serious Justice by Jen Calleja

– Reviewed by Humphrey Astley – I first encountered the poetry of Jen Calleja in an issue of Ambit magazine: I wasn’t sure that I liked her work but it interested me, and, in a poetry scene as awash as the UK’s, that matters. Aside from some structural patterning and a few half-rhymes (‘We ate an entire fragrant…

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Çekoslovakyalilaştiramadiklarimizdanmisiniz or Long Words by Nia Davies

– Reviewed by Ryan Ormonde – Long words betray a push-and-pull tension in speech: if used too frequently, they slow down comprehension. If dispensed with altogether, what remains are spluttering staccato phrases attempting to form the already formed, grasping after the specific. Then there are very, very long words. Unusable oddities, their purpose seems satirical – a warning against…

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Kaleidoscope by Laura Taylor

– Reviewed by Grant Tarbard – Laura Taylor was born into a working-class family, and her whole body of work in Kaleidoscope speaks of love, harmony and equality. When poor people’s lives are like water running down the drain we can do with as many voices shouting about inequality from the rooftops as we can. Taylor…

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Pétroleuse by Steph Pike

– Reviewed by Harry Buckoke – In no bad way, I want to hear Pétroleuse spoken: the strong rhymes in poems like “The Grass is Greener” feel like the linguistic equivalent of the power chords of punk rock, and often borrow from their language. “We are pussies and we riot” ends the first poem in the…

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Euclid’s Harmonics by Jonathan Morley

– Reviewed by Harry Buckoke – Euclid’s Harmonics is named after a lost text by the translator, physician and educator Philemon Holland. Holland lived and worked in the city of Coventry, which is the central focus of the collection. Jonathan Morley takes time to detail Holland’s approach to translation, at once erudite and, in his own…

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Blueprints for a Minefield by Shauna Robertson

– Reviewed by James O’Leary – “The day we met, I started work on the axe.” The opening poem of Shauna Robertson’s Blueprints for a Minefield begins with a killer first line and ends with a payoff that gave me chills. This first poem gives powerful context to the pamphlet’s curious title, sets the tone for what’s to…