Since 1987’s Ghost Measures, Clarke has plied a unique phrasal poetics which made him a key figure in the advent of Linguistically Innovative Poetry. His encyclopedic European imagination, triggered by Brexit, here reprises central themes of a lifework in a variety of forms and sequences paying tribute to influences such as Laforgue, Michaux, Celan whilst forging their own razor-sharp enjambments and break-neck rhythms. Alert to the nightmare of history ‘haunting Europe’ in ‘memory’s negotiable embrace’, these saturated, luminous poems cast the light of dark matter over a ‘split / self species’ caught in the tensions between flesh and spirit (see the astonishing sonnet sequence ‘Herodiad’) and facing the bleakest of futures: ‘words illegible / in fading light.’ This is essential minutes-to-go, no-exit reading where ‘unspeakable flesh’ is full of ‘secret histories’ and ‘word/-ghosts’ and, only if we’re very lucky indeed, ‘syntax rescues a / place named home.’
– Scott Thurston
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