Mark Ford's epic anthology London, A History In Verse, has received delighted reviews across the national press. Sinclair McKay wrote in The Telegraph that it is ‘an anthology that captures the spirit of London from the 14th century to the present'; A.N Wilson wrote in the Evening Standard that it is ‘a rich, poetic evocation of our city by one who is himself a learned poet'; and Zadie Smith branded it ‘an irresistible collection'.
Les Murray's New Selected Poems, which featured in the ‘Other New Books' section of the PBS Summer Bulletin, has been widely reviewed and well-received by the national press. Boyd Tonkin of the Independent lauded ‘the veteran Australian maestro', further describing him as ‘prodigiously gifted in matters of form and language but defiantly plebeian in outlook and instinct.' In The Guardian Peter Porter also ruminated on Murray's strong sense of working class identity, suggesting a certain contradiction in the fact that Murray's writing flies ‘above the heads' of the class he claims to represent, whilst many of those Murray actively picks out as elitist ‘enemies' are amongst his most admiring readers. Despite this ideological tension Porter still praises Les Murray as ‘the most sophisticated and accomplished poet Australia has yet produced'.
The same two newspapers also reviewed Don Paterson's Selected Poems, which also featured in the PBS Bulletin's ‘Other New Books' pages. In The Independent Suzi Feay, though raising a slight eyebrow at the ‘blokeyness' of Paterson's earlier poems, eventually admits that there was ‘always more' to him than ‘drinking, fighting and f**king'; ‘the metaphysical horror and understanding of the mature work ... will linger in the mind'. Ben Wilkinson in The Guardian is less conflicted in his admiration, salivating over Paterson's ‘undiminished ability to elevate and surprise, revivifying traditional forms with panache'.
Dan Burt's We Look Like This, a further occupant of the PBS ‘Other New Books' pages, was met with approval by Elaine Feinstein in The Times, who called it a ‘major debut. Burt's tough, terse language explores the human truth reached when all protective skin is stripped away'.
Dennis O'Driscoll's Dear Life was enjoyed by Fran Brearton in The Guardian. She approves of the alternative poetic perspective he gains by also having a civil service job. She compares him in this respect to other literary giants like Philip Larkin. ‘These are poems saturated with a language that wilfully exposes to us its (and by implication our) limitations the more O'Driscoll insists we hear it.'
The Economist approved of James Fenton's collected Yellow Tulips, admiring his thematic range: ‘He describes student hangovers and heartbreak (and shows the uncanny similarities between the two). But his most common theme is combat, and how it affects those who have the least say in it, "those whom geography condemns to war".'
Another widely reviewed collection was Love's Bonfire by Tom Paulin. The Observer branded it ‘as combustible as good conversation but [it] goes beyond conversation - as poetry should', whilst the Independent was pleased by Paulin's assumption of knowledge in his audience: ‘This is writing which, far from pressing knowledge on an outsider, asks the (British, Irish) reader to accept an insider's responsibility. To read any of these poems as innocent of their political context would be an act of elective deafness, and would miss the importance of Paulin's contribution to the continuing tradition of political verse in these islands.'