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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How we live now, 25 May 2014
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This review is from: The Living Option: Selected Poems (Paperback)
It's difficult in a few words to sum up any volume of poems, particularly a selected or collected volume. In a poets writing life they may explore many things in many directions. This is true of Karen Solie's work in this volume. Yet this is a statement of riches over the 157 odd pages on display here.

Ms Solie is a Canadian poet about whom I knew little before reading the poems in this book. Yet there is much on show here that might engage both those new and familiar to contemporary poetry. She writes in a direct style, yet shows considerable erudition, sometimes that only becomes apparent by looking at the notes at the back. References to economics (how many books of poems have a quote from JK Galbraith?), a book of Catholic prayers, novels of WG Sebald, Classical and Gnostic texts., to name only a few.

The poems are described on the back as looking at delusions, perceptions, existential bewilderment. Yet the subject matter is very down to earth and quotidian: hearing the voice of someone in a neighbouring hotel room, in flight films, driving across wide (presumably) Canadian planes. Most of the poems are in free verse, though there is range of subject matter on show. A particular favourite of mine is a prose poem which examines a photograph of snow falling on a city, and all the perceptions and histories that go into it such as the photographer's life story, the history of constructions, and people. There are others such as the title poem that are more philosophical and survey the poets life with acute insight int contemporary living.

All in all this a highly impressive first publication in the UK that left me wanting more.

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Graham Mummery
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Location: Sevenoaks, Kent England

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