An independent small press poetry review

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Bakail Press
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St Albans
ISBN 0 9544837 1 5

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A POCKET OF MICE is Richard George's second poetry collection and it is a challenge to review. Not because there is anything wrong with it, quite to the contrary, it is excellent. The challenge is to choose which extracts to quote and also to try to define what is so good about this poetry.

There is a great range in this collection, range in subject matter, style and in approach to the subject. Yet at the same time the whole hangs together very well and doesn't feel like a random collection of poems as can sometimes be the case where the individual poems are so entirely different from each other.

George is a poet very much in tune with nature but is not content with writing the sort of gratuitous nature poetry that tries to preserve the countryside in glass cases. His lyrical descriptions, as in SUNSET'S GHOST:

	Lilac clouds, a wash of green
	At daylight's end:
are matched and balanced with beautifully rendered understanding of the mess the environment is in, as in the same poem:
	we have made her burn with fever.
Similarly, THE NIGHTINGALE is a lament for the loss of birds from our countryside. LAST MOMENTS observes a bumblebee's death and leads on to the observation:
	when I am dying,
	half way to the ocean where we were before
	       we were,

	do not drag me back.
RELIVING THE CALENDAR also links the natural world around us to link to the human world, in this case nesting spotted flycatchers link our gardens with other places:
	They will be building in Tikrit,
	and Mosul, and Baghdad.
A similar case of the seemingly commonplace linking to wider concerns is seen in PLAYING WARS which links children's wargames with the death of a little girl in Israel. HOWARD LINTON and THE OLD NORTHERN LINE address social issues in a more head on manner.

However this collection is not all serious. IF SIXTIES WERE NINETIES AD imagines the Roman Empire equivalent of the 1960s; QUICK FIX outlines a way to stop being a poet, for all of those bothered by that condition; A DOCTOR NORWAY, PERHAPS is a lovely pen portrait of a femme fatale:

	A second later
	from the rear, she is nuble;
	trouser pert and dangerous,
	black hair long, 
	straggle tangling.
while in DAMAGED STOCK, the narrator writes love letters to a librarian:
	She will never read these words
	though she may shelve them.
Overall this is a very rich and varied collection, thought provoking, moving and amusing in turn and well worth reading.

reviewer: Juliet Wilson.