For his 'New and Selected Poems', Goblin Lawn, Peter Bennet has concentrated mostly on work written since 1999, including his two most ambitious poems, the historically rich and complex sequences, The Long Pack and Jigger Nods. The other three sections consist of shorter poems: twenty from his collection Ha-Ha, twenty from Noctua, and a final group of twenty-one new and uncollected poems gathered under the erudite subtitle Apokatastesis. Bennet is a perfectionist wordsmith who demands attentive reading.
Peter Bennet's world is richly and idiosyncratically imagined, a place where mysteries occupy strangely familiar landscapes, where folktale and proverb intersect with the contemporary, and where nothing is as secure or simple as it seems. The poems are full of telling detail and yet crisply economical, driven by an exact and surprising musicality. Bennet is an original: new readers have rich pleasures in store.
An individual voice is present, unaffected, direct and conversational, but capable without the least sense of dislocation of rising to a note of restrained rhetorical power.
These poems grow on you. They repay renewed and careful reading. Where they first seem obscure, they become intriguing; then rather haunting, glimpses of lives in a variety of strange circumstances and locations. They are very careful, even compressed; but the effect, as you read again, is of something — disquiet, regret, fear — being opened up.
There is humour, too, a wild gothicity as if damped down by Novocaine.
Goblin Lawn costs £8.50 and was published in September 2005.
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