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on 29 July 2011
This is the kind of book that must be read by those poets who have already published their first book and are writing drafts of the second. The temptation is repeating themselves, to keep the same voice: they were teenagers and continue talking as teenagers 5 or 10 years later. That is funny. Ruth Padel examines 60 poems, case by case, different voices, diversified cultural backgrounds and cohorts, long distant continents and by the end this is not a melting pot. It is an advanced seminar addressed to those wo are used to express themselves in poems, to wander around in daily life affairs wearing the umbrella of a fresh mind and a receptive smile. Each poet is approached only once in the five sections of this book, a few biographical data of each poet facilitate the context, a few paragraphs highlight some contents and finally several paragraphs enhance those acustic effects worked out by the author, a good comedian ready to succeed. In poetry reading and hearing come together, it is the domain of oral communication, and the main mistake of many not so young poets is that they are used to read silently. A poem cannot be reduced to written communication, that is prose. Only statues read silently the scroll or book invented by the sculptor. It was a clever idea then. Rarely lapidary verses deserve so much attention.
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on 20 September 2013
I didn't appreciate, when ordering this book, just how remarkable a teacher Ruth Padel is. This book has informed, challenged and delighted me.
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on 17 May 2017
Such a fine book as this deserves better paper and binding.
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on 12 June 2013
into the workings of poetry and contemporary poetry in particular. I wouldn't be without it. The bedside book bar none.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 30 August 2012
There is very little to be critical about in Ruth Padel's extensively annotated collection of poetry. There is much to enjoy and much to learn, which is the beauty of a book with such an eclectic collection of works.

In her introduction she brings us to the writing of William Golding in his deeply moving story of Neanderthal man - The Inheritors:
"Lok discovered `Like'. He had used likeness all his life without being aware of it. Fungi on a tree were ears... In a convulsion of understanding Lok found himself using likeness as a tool as surely as ever he had used a stone to hack at sticks or meat. Likeness could grasp the white-faced hunters with a hand, could put them into the world where they were thinkable and not a random and unrelated irruption."

Lok has discovered or even, I suppose, minted, metaphor and simile and with them a way to make the pictures and meanings of his world anew, and forever new. But although Ruth Padel's notion of poetry being a kind of journey resonates, it feels a little too easy in enthusing and extrapolating to produce too many riches - too many beautiful dreamings, if you like. Many of the best poets are harder and stricter with their art than Padel suggests. They have cultivated a more rationed ore to mine, one that is the opposite of full with words, one which wishes to keep them working to the limit. I'm thinking of the hard, harsh beauty of poems such as Ian Duhig's The Lammas Hireling, and Rosemary Tonks' Badly Chosen Lover, both included in this invaluable collection.

I don't want to criticise too much, because in many cases Ruth Padel does help to unravel some of the difficult poetics and their meanings - all due I feel to her Classical education. But some of the poems here are sufficiently raw, sufficiently, bloody and torn, to need no help, to need no interpretation. These are the poems that stand out for me. They are clear, though I couldn't tell you, for instance, when Lammas occurs, or what precisely Duhig means by "Now my herd's elf-shot" - but I get the picture and all of its subtleties so clearly, the tone and feeling of the poem tells me everything.

It is the same with Rosemary Tonks' poem when she says: at the end
"-In my brain's clear retina
I have the stolen love behaviour.
Your heart, greedy and tepid, brothel-meat,
Gulped it, like a flunkey with erotica.
And very softly, Criminal, I damn you for it.
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on 19 December 2014
A wonderful way into poetry. Thoroughly recommneded .
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on 11 September 2016
Book fantastic very poor condition falling apart
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on 11 December 2014
All fine - thank you.
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on 30 August 2014
Exactly as described, arrived on time
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