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Customer Review

on 6 May 2011
This is one of the most powerful poems I have read. It is powerful in a number of ways, not just because it deals with a significant event of recent history to which I feel personally connected, but in the use of the various poetic forms and techniques it uses to create narrative as well as commentary. One of the most pleasing things about the whole piece was the arc it made of the small found objects observed at chapter four and returned in a box at the end.
Each of the thirteen `chapters' (if that is the right word) have a different pace, from the reflective first stanza, onto the calm early morning office; strangely both calm and energetic at the same time since the stanzas are short with a crisp observant image in each. Chapter five is really well observed, I feel like I am in the juddering building with them. This connection with real people developing real panic in the next couple of chapters is the most narrative part of the piece. It is laid out as a regular shaped poem except for chapter seven which looks like prose but is in fact one image after another packed so closely together it creates even more confusion and intensity. By chapter ten all that is left is an acceptance of fate and the telephoned goodbyes. Three more chapters develop the idea of clinging on to hope, returning to the idea that the god-like view taken at the start now makes you feel both monstrous and insignificant. Your rescuers are only ants from this height. This reflection on earlier images reminds the reader of the distance travelled to this point of `failing, flagging'.
The thirteenth and final chapter, which includes within it the first, (again in italics as if it was the preface to a novel), wraps the poem up in couplets and overlays it with a blanket of `what's. This is a long poem. I'm not sure how long the short film that accompanied it was but I can imagine that when the on screen imagery was combined with the poem it would have been very moving. For me this poem does what poems ought to do; put into words ideas that are difficult to articulate any other way, allowing an emotional connection with the images created to achieve a personalised level of understanding. I read this poem and was affected that way; blown away as the dust from the debris and the feeling that from that moment on `Everything changed. Nothing was safe.'

There are two other long poems in the book. Both excellent.

Armitage is really versatile.
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