John Ashbery’s translation of Arthur Rimbaud’s Illuminations has been widely reviewed in the UK broadsheets. Describing Illuminations as "one of the most exciting and haunting pieces of literature ever written", Charles Bainbridge, writing in The Guardian on 2 July, declares John Ashbery’s translation as "one of the strongest, most exuberant and closely engaged". He goes on to credit Ashbery’s "immaculate sense of tone and register, his delight in carefully taking up and pushing the more lyrical and exuberant moments to their limit" for this "brilliant rendering of Rimbaud’s greatest work". Jeremy Noel-Tod writing in The Telegraph on 30 June defines Ashbery’s own verse as sounding like "the Amercian afterlife of an émigré Surrealist", thereby declaring him ideally placed as Rimbaud’s translator. He describes Ashbery’s translation as "visibly faithful to the original in almost every sentence" but with "interpretive liberties" which are "occasional and well-considered". The Independent’s Suzi Feay also finds in Ashbery’s translation of Rimbaud’s Illuminations "a perfect match"; "These miraculous bulletins seem new-minted in Ahsbery’s deft renderings".
Bernard O’Donoghue’s new collection Farmers Cross, which was featured in ‘Other New Books’ in the PBS Summer Bulletin, finds favour with Paul Batchelor, writing in The Guardian on 23 July. Batchelor finds that O’Donoghue provides the reader with "excellent company" due to his "voice – or, more specifically, tone – achieving a soft-spoken intimacy with the reader". He values a poet with "a unique gift for honouring the moments other poets overlook". Lesley McDowell in The Independent on 3 July identifies death as a theme in the collection but also notices "a sensual awareness of the living world". She sums up; "Life and death, as ever, side by side".
Another of the ‘Other New Books’ in the PBS Summer Bulletin was Tim Liardet’s The Storm House, an elegy to his brother who died in mysterious and violent circumstances. Suzi Feay in The Independent on 17 July finds the poems in this collection to be "unified in the most tragic way" but ultimately finds that "this descent into the darkness is not morbid, but uplifting".
Jane Draycott’s Pearl, featured in the PBS Summer Bulletin as the Translation Choice, receives high praise from Boyd Tonkin in The Independent on 29 July, as he writes that "Draycott’s fresh version of this anonymous masterpiece is the best available. The glamour, even glitz, of its view of paradise across the river of death dazzles as never before in modern English."
Rachael Boast’s debut collection Sidereal has attracted a complimentary review from Ben Wilkinson in The Guardian on 25 June. Describing her approach as "stylistically lyrical, loosely formal, serious yet agile", Wilkinson detects a "metaphysical feel" amongst her "sprawling themes – life, love, chance; nature, faith, change". Suzi Feay is equally impressed with this "clever, lyrical debut" in The Independent on 17 July. She comments that "Boast’s true forms are triggered by love and travel, and poised between revelation and reticence".
Finally, Sean O’Brien praises the masterful Derek Mahon in The Sunday Times, for his New Collected Poems published this year to coincide with his 70th birthday. O’Brien applauds Mahon’s "formal brilliance, which … seems to grow from contrast". He puts him firmly in the same league as the great Irish poets Seamus Heaney and Michael Longley, crowning him as "the great stylist of the three, swift and restless".