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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An acutely observant craftsman, 23 Sep 2010
By 
Jeremy Bevan (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tramp in Flames (Paperback)
Paul Farley's third published collection of poetry demonstrates a remarkable range - he can be funny, poignant, whimsical and profound, all the while being an acutely observant craftsman. Tackling everything from shooting birds as a youngster with an air-rifle to recording their sounds as an adult birdwatcher, and both the power and deceptiveness of memory, he's most at home (it seems to me) excavating the depths of the present moment, the gaps between the seconds (`The Lapse' and `Filler') and the dense, allusive texture of the natural world (`The Big Hum' with its `great space, stitched by wrens and plumbed by larks', and `Whitebeam').

And although some poems over-work a conceit and are perhaps a bit too fanciful (`The Scarecrow Wears a Wire') or are - for me - too elusive ('Pantoum of the Emergency'), Farley has a clear gift for conjuring up depths and layers, as well as evoking a wry sadness, whether at the passing of childhood, the death of a friend or the transitory nature of life itself. Perhaps most remarkable is the way he captures an emotional trope - the loss of innocence (`The Westbourne at Sloane Square'), the persistence of regret (`Paperboy and Air-Rifle'), the sense of nature terribly awry during the foot and mouth disease catastrophe (`A Shepherd's Guide to Wool and Earmarks') in just a line, line-and-a-half or half-line twist right at the end of a poem. It's a rare poet who can turn the mood of a poem on a sixpence like that, and it makes the collection as a whole an intense and satisfying one.
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Tramp in Flames
Tramp in Flames by Paul Farley (Paperback - 1 Sep 2006)
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