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Manchester reviewed
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Manchester book reviews

To The War Poets by John Greening

To The War Poets by John Greening

Published by Carcanet Press

Reviewed by Denis Joe December 2014

 

Something occurred in 1914 that makes it very challenging to grasp the century to come.”
Frank Furedi

“. . . the war’s going on still . . .”
To Edmund Blunden

 

We can easily find the theme of World War One in plenty of art forms: film and novels are two obvious examples. The theme tells us a straight forward story (All Quiet on the Western Front). We will have a clear idea of what is being conveyed to us. But poetry is different. Things are not as clear cut and we are made to suspend our conception of reality and meaning when we engage with a poem. Or at least that is how a poem should work. Even the poetry of Owen, Sassoon, Rosenberg, etc., is not as straight forward as it may appear. Though we can assume that those great men were trying to convey the everyday living of war, we can never be certain. One could just as well see the war as a metaphor for the latest stage of capitalism at that time: Mass war; mass production. In the same manner that the worker became a part of the mechanics of the factory the soldiers became a part of the machinery of war.

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Manchester book reviews

This Thing of Memory by David Hynes

This Thing of Memory by David Hynes

Published by GWL Publishing

Reviewed by Denis Joe November 2014

 

It was inevitable that there would be a relative abundance of poetry published in this, the centenary of the start of the First World War.

 

“What on earth was this centenary meant to evoke? Anything? Should it mean anything to us?'


“Well, not if we keep thinking the Great War is too exalted to analyse or too entrenched in pathos and tragedy to begin to question its legacy. So, I began to conduct my own investigations into the Great War, to see what personal relevance this conflict still had over me.


“And, lo and behold, I discovered the Great War was entirely relevant- and not just to me, but to all of us.”

David Hynes

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Manchester book reviews

The Master and Margarita ny Mikhail Bulgakov

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Reviewed by Sarah Bartlett November 2013 (top), and Joanne Green December 2013 (bottom)

 

The devil arrives in Moscow. The city descends into a temporary and fantastical chaos, exposing the true moral character of Soviet society, as Bulgakov sees it. Bulgakov’s heroine, Margarita, sells her soul to the devil in the interests of her adulterous relationship with the Master, author of a failed novel about Pontius Pilate. Almost two millennia earlier, in the parallel plot, Yeshua Ha-Notsri (Bulgakov’s Jesus figure) arrived at the palace of the Procurator of Judaea, and Pilate subsequently failed, through cowardice and realpolitik, to save an innocent ‘preacher of peace’ from the death sentence.

 

We often refer to novels as being multi-layered, but The Master and Margarita stuns its readers with myriad dimensions, all perfectly realised, and it is easy to forget that the novel was written in the narrowing climate of Soviet Russia.

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Livid Among The Ghostings by Anna Percy

Livid Among The Ghostings by Anna Percy

Published by Flapjack Press

Reviewed by Denis Joe July 2013

 

Livid Among The Ghostings is Anna Percy’s first full collection of poetry and my first encounter with her work and it was a pleasant surprise to find a poet who is both skilful and imaginative.

 

Why Waste The Ink, a prose poem, opens this collection. It is a very touching piece. The opening sentence, ‘I write because I want men to fall in love with me’, may strike the reader as humourous, in the context of the poem as a whole it takes on a feeling of pathos.

 

Why Waste The Ink is a good piece to open this volume of poetry with, because it is a very lovely and sensuous poem which set the pace for the works to come. It could easily have been an anaphora, but I feel that would have been a much too energetic opening. Though I do imagine that it could be read out as such.

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Weirdo. Mosher. Freak by Catherine Smyth

Weirdo. Mosher. Freak. by Catherine Smyth

The Murder of Sophie Lancaster

Reviewed by Simon Belt October 2014

 
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