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Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (136 pages)
(Pub. Nov 2003)
A sailor needs a well
like a miner needs a fountain.
End-on, earth scroll
and water scroll are identical.
from 'Yin Yang'
Manganese starts with a murder in China in the age of Confucius and ends with a sestina about a difficult family Christmas in front of the television. Plain-spoken narrative is juxtaposed with an enigmatic, densely woven imagery exploring fugitive states of mind. Uniting these extremes is a restless, rhyme-driven craftsmanship, energetic in making new forms as well as in exploiting traditional ones. The focus ranges from landmarks in cultural history, such as the first performance of Nijinsky's ballet L'aprés-midi d'un faune and the first Boy Scout camp, to the poet's responses to a serious cycling accident. There are versions of ten of Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus, following the rhyme scheme of the original German, and a long section of poems ('Skywatching') that combine conventional with consonantal rhyme, often capturing thoughts that travel too fast or too deep for reason.
Sparkling with bravado and wit, but with moments of disarming tenderness, Manganese is one of the most abundantly various collections of poetry to appear in recent years.
Praise for Robert Saxton 'It's a bold deed to summon up Hesiod in eighty sonnets. The form, both familiar and odd, may shock us into a wakeful reading. For this is not at all an antiquarian version of two ancient texts. On the contrary, Robert Saxton addresses us here and now in the Age of Iron and makes us wonder how much longer Earth will endure our stay.'
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