At first glance Anne Stevenson's poetic themes and techniques are decidedly homely, with their focus squarely on the house, the family or the garden. Poems about animals and relatives, such as a charming verse about a dead cat (with the one-word pay-off "requiscat"), sit alongside poems about flowers and birds, one of which teeters on the edge of tweeness ("Mrs Blackbird").
Yet explore a little further and Stevenson's wider ambitions reveal themselves. The touching title poem itself unfolds from a small domestic drama into a philosophical elegy. Likewise, many of the countryside poems deftly evolve into witty, well-argued commentaries on subjects like the matter of Wales--a perennial theme for the American-born but Welsh-living sexagenarian poetess.
Stevenson's style is as ever sharp, dry, pensive and humorous. In form, the verses range from one-stanza wonders, like "On Going Deaf" ("I've lost a sense, why should I care? I search myself and find a spare"), to more sprawling but never shapeless lyrics like the cleverly ventriloquised tribute to Ted Hughes, "Invocation and Interruption" ("You'll find me in all my books. So please no more poems about me"). If Stevenson's poems suffer from an occasional lack of passion, they are never less than intelligent, craftsman-like, kind-hearted and refined. --Sean Thomas
About the Author
Ann Stevenson, born in England af American parents, grew up in the states but has lived in Britain for most of her adult life. She has published twelve collections of poetry, a book of essays, between the iceberg and the ship (1998), a recent critical study, five looks at Elizabeth Bishop (1998) and a biography of ?Sylvia Plath, Bitter Fame (1989). Granny Scarcrow is her first new collection since The Collected Poems 1955-1995.