Reviewed Poetry Book

Public Dream

by Frances Leviston

This is Frances Leviston's debut collection and is surprisingly self-assured. She has an affinity for accuracy and for uncovering the precise words to describe her scenes and imagery. Her style is suggestive and ambitious. This can be seen in the poem, Moon.

Startled by the moon in the middle of the day,
same blue as the sky, like a crater in it,
for the first time in years I think of the flag
still lying there, of the men whose lives are fastened to it
even though the rest of us have turned away,

and I think of all the places I have been
in love, or happy, where I'll never go again
and probably couldn't find - that linden tree in Boston
I was lying under, watching college kids
lope across the grass on their muscled brown legs,
when I suddenly headed for home.

There are bones inside my body I have never seen.

There is tension between truth and illusion; between the real and the uncanny. This is illustrated in the following extract from Humbles.

If you have hit a deer on the road at dusk;
climbed, shivering, out of your car
with curses to investigate the damage
done, and found it split apart and steaming
far-flung in the nettle bed, utterly beyond repair,
then you have seen what is not meant to be seen,
is packed in cannily, coiled, like parachute silks,
but unpackable, out for the world to witness:

Her poetry is emotionally-charged and private, yet exposed for all to see as if in a public dream with cathartic undertones. Her technical mastery and bludgeoning originality make this an exciting collection.

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