on 4 June 2001
The 10 poets in Anvil New Poets 3 are modern enough in their subject matter. One of them, Ros Barber, has two here that involve picking up condoms. (She has written elsewhere of a diaphragm and is well on the way to becoming the poet of prophylaxis). But in style they seem to look to earlier influences: Eliot, Stevens, Plath, Ashbery. The older the poets, the wider the choice of styles to emulate. So the poets here are happily versatile, even if some have yet to settle on a voice. Three at least have managed this. Robert Seatter, whose sense of line is so good you hardly notice it, and whose images come naturally (although I wasn't quite sure what God was doing in his lavatory); Sian Hughes, who is unafraid of her wild imagination; and Kathryn Gray, who is the most exciting poet in the collection.
on 23 May 2001
I must say this is an eclectic and important compilation, from flesh-and-blood poets in modern England, aware, but not necessarily self-obsessed. If the book whets your appetite for perspective, consider hunting up a reading with one or more of the many talented writers who appear here . . .
on 17 December 2003
They are bundled together, but the poets seem to have little in common; perhaps a reflection of the diversity of contemporary poetry? Sarah Wardle and Kona MacPhee were for me the most successful; they have a grasp of formal technique unmatched by the others, and it goes naturally with their subject-matter. Some of the voices aren't fully convincing, perhaps unsurprising in an anthology of the new. Perhaps best of the rest were Kathryn Gray, who has an alluring voice which is all the same close to prose, and it could be that she is a fiction writer in waiting; and Ros Barber, who is colourful about sex but not always convincing (you wonder who'd go around picking up used condoms in real life, like her character 'Eve'). The female poets here are more striking than their male counterparts.