For 2020, the StAnza Blog is hosting DURA – the Dundee University Review of the Arts – who as reviewers in virtual residence on the StAnza Blog will post excerpts from their selection of reviews of titles by poets on the StAnza 2020 programme, including this one in today’s blog. The full review can be read on their website at https://dura-dundee.org.uk/category/poets-stanza-2019-reviews/. Written by staff and students, DURA is keen to promote the diversity of artists and art forms in the UK context, supporting especially (albeit non-exclusively) independent cinema outlets, exhibitions, theatre, film and publishing.
Anthony Anaxagorou, After the Formalities, reviewed by Nick Mulgrew
What makes After the Formalities stand out is its bravery, chiefly in its suggestion that intergenerational trauma may be interrupted– or at least, like a ganglion, lanced. But ganglions have roots, of course, and
have been in the earth
for so long
they know only to call themselves earth[.]
The collection is also – if you’ll excuse this further bit of word-based free-association – an earthing. Peppered throughout are poems about – and, save for one, never explicitly for – his son. These genuinely tender and moving slices-of-life hint at the burden of trauma inherited from one’s forebears, and constitute a meditation on how to ensure trauma does not become an heirloom. The poet wants to ‘warn’ his son ‘about getting / attached to things already lost’, while remaining a protective and loving father (‘Things Already Lost’). Perhaps it is necessary to ‘pick cartilage from the ribs of our sorrows’, and perhaps too ‘a microscope’s lens’ is a ‘conceit’ (‘What the Lesser Water Boatman Had to Say’). If he sometimes unsuccessfully experiments with form – throwing things at hand and seeing what sticks – he successfully and more generatively does with approaches to catharsis.
Regardless, Anaxagorou has the ability to write with a grace that suits his smart, often delicate poetics....