An independent small press poetry review

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21 Hatton Green
ISBN 1 905939 00 0

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The author's first poetry collection. taking its name from the title of a dream poem, one of 28 in this 32pp booklet. Some poems have been published in Ireland and England. Duddy himself is Irish and a teacher of philosophy at the National University of Ireland.

The well-wrought prosaic lines are skilfully stressed in the right places and the end words fall naturally in place. The line and stanza crafting is such that there is no need for rhyming and alliterative or lyrical artifices. Nothing is forced or egotistic, although these are mainly personal observations; the work is clinical, restrained, within which ideas and subject matter hold the reader.

Continuity of poems from stanza to stanza makes it difficult to quote representative portions of poems except to point to the technique and style used, which come over as enhanced natural statements.

In THE LANGUAGE OF VISITORS, there is a perceptive attempt to find the underlying meaning of what visitors say a suspicion of something 'not quite right'. Actually I do not see in this case why it is such a matter demanding analysis, but it gives a clue to Duddy's non-acceptances of statements at face value, e.g.

	In reality, that garden would have had
	a red-shanked jungle of rhubarb growing wild  
	down the middle of it, all the corners
	no-go areas of nettles and drenching grass.
is a part stanza following up the suspicion that when visitors mention that calves were found in a vegetable garden, something else is meant. This fiddling suspicion gives rise to a poem of some virtue moulded from rather petty subject matter, but apparently important to the poet although his own thoughts on lack of fidelity of the statements are themselves open to suspicion that Duddy is more interested in poetic construction than the truth of his analysis. It can form part of a series where successive people provide analysis only to inspire others to analyse the analysis. Something like a food chain.

This kind of probing also surfaces in THE DELIVERY MAN who,let into the hallway, is deemed to believe that the occupants

	were still citizens
	of the world, with everything still to play for
The last stanza puts the reality straight:
	But then, while the smiles were still breaking
	on our faces, he was gone. The house closed in fast
	behind him and grew warm again, and airless     
	and secure. And dreaming once more overcame us
. All work differs in subject matter but are mainly anchored to the kind of prosecution outlined already. The miracle is that the workmanship makes good poems, but it does.

A fascinating and fastidious collection, and I hope we will see more from Tom Duddy.

reviewer: Eric Ratclife.