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Smith/Doorstep Books The Poetry Business
Bank Street Arts
32-40 Bank Street
S1 2DS
ISBN 978 1 902382 87 6

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This page last updated: 28th June 2008.

Diana Syder's accomplished new collection STRING is equal parts science and poetry. Where the book could fail to grasp a wider readership with its intricate and specific understanding of acetylcholine and aminobutyric acid the book succeeds in acknowledging the balance between science and art while demonstrating a gift for simple, human storytelling.

In the first section, BLUE SKIES, the poet seems quietly stifled by a meeting of academic minds in a cloistered settings and announces in THE POETRY MACHINE:

	You say I'd be better off in physics
	because engineers are so practical
	but a poem is so like a machine
	I'm surprised you can't see it.
As the poem continues and the line of argument continues you become engrossed in its nebulous thought,
	...a poem
	is like star formation, primordial words
	scattered across the vacuum of the page
	fine dust swirling
As if a spell cast on a bewitched scientist, the last line states:
	I could go on.
These poems, clever and informed in their scientific knowledge all have a relaxed but careful controlled tone as if a meeting of quietly determined minds, (friends, parents, colleagues?) meet regularly.

The next section, THE LOOKOUT POST is dramatic in tone and brings to life a derelict lot which has many hidden secrets to tell from the last war.

	...the past's
	become a phantom limb and wars
	I heard of as a child have slipped
	under my skin, all pins and needles.
Then in italics a different voice, a past comes alive:
	Mother's story
	a lorry pulled up full of soldiers fresh from Dunkirk
Stories in this section are told in different voices in handwritten letters, too and most compelling are those told in italics: war zeppelins overhead, flattened houses, noses. All Bombs, bunkers and incendiaries, the poems in THE LOOKOUT POST are a fascinating, human read.

The final main section is NORTHERN FANTASY and this is a series of poems about restless (enslaved?) spirits, which we're told is set to piano, clarinet and a choir with conductor. I am curious to know how this might sound when put to music; it doesn't grab on the page like the first two sections and this could be to do with the icy locations which are described as Siberian(?). However I would be keen to listen to the production and read the words to the music, it looks very imaginative and beautiful.

The poems in STRING have running and continual themes: art v science, poetry as storytelling and poetry as theatre but the abiding and lasting impression is the author's cleverness and intelligence and willingness to challenge the mind here.

reviewer: John Stiles.