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REVIEWS

From Ambit No.209, August 2012
Review by Helena Nelson

Susan Utting is never intimidating. Her poems welcome you in and they are invariably well made. They sound good too: it’s a pleasure to encounter a collection that flows with such aural felicity. I loved some of the texts here: none of them occupies more than one side, so you can read, re-read and wallow….

‘Lament for Susie Green’ is a giddy and delicious elegy. Several poems here, in fact, are elegiac, but they explore their losses in different ways.’ Susie Green’ is merry-sad. ‘Stickler’ is an affectionate, feisty conversation with a person who is not, I think, there. ‘Now’ is brief and clean and perfect, and I can’t resist the temptation to quote it in full because I like it so much:

Amsterdam without
you, or you, or even you:

this time it’s easy,
lazy, beautiful, as strong

as coffee, fresh as
red shutters on high windows,

friendly as geraniums
on winking canal water.

That simplicity of language is like clear glass: you see Amsterdam and you feel the absence. (Substitute your own ‘you’ - this is a poem with space for the reader.) ‘Altering the clocks’ gently connects time shifts with the dead, winter with spring. ‘The Line’ is an elegant and heart-lifting mother-daughter poem. ‘Distances’ combines, in formal couplets, past and present, youth and age, everything and nothing. It is beautifully managed and exquisitely sinister. All in all, this is an engagingly modest book - only 44 page-length poems - and all of them penned by a poet of distinction.

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