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Odd Volumes: Screeds by Stephen Wiest.

Screeds by Stephen WiestScreeds is an extended sequence which tracks a mediated life-passage, a narrative of failed and surviving love which is elegantly enmeshed in philosophical discoveries, abstract history and something called “America”, a kind of demanding governess who is very difficult to put up with. The poems are almost placeless, moving directly from experience into a poetical over-language, in a central tradition on which he has a firm grip. The techniques are those of someone who knows exactly what he wants from modern poetry, as a vehicle for dense self-questioning thought, but also linguistic escapades and meditative spaces some of which are a model of assurance and calm in the writing, ever prepared to transgress rational expectation:


It is two o’clock in the city

sirens are silent

windows open the first time in months

a mockingbird tests the air after rain

(full moon, high clouds)

shakes out his rusty songbook

on the edge of spring.

Thirty-seven songs in the heavy air.

Peter Riley
Poetry Editor
The Fortnightly Review

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