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Dunes of Cwm Rheidol by John Barnie

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Walking the razor edge between grim reality and despair, John Barnie once again brings his intelligence, wit and prescient anger to bear on the world we inhabit and the world we are making. In spine-chilling imagery and with a linguistic dexterity that makes words shine, we are taken to a landscape that is exquisite and familiar, yet simultaneously overwhelmed with wreckage and grief. Staring not only into time's abyss, but into the carnage wrought by human desire for more and more..., these urgent poems carry our collective grief for all that is lost-'there was no one to grieve / so I walked beside them, taking it on.' ('Dead Swans on a Winter Coast')And alongside the losses, cultural and ecological, there is also vision, searing and politically acute.

Prophetic in the tradition of Robinson Jeffers, but with the lyric compression of William Carlos Williams, whose words provide the epigraph for this collection, Barnie imagines his quiet rural homeland occupied and brutalised in the central sequence, 'Occupied': 'the safety net / so full of holes you couldn't catch a whale in it [...]/ I knew the days of iridescence were lost for ever.' ('Iridescence') While in 'M.A.D.: The Sequel' rhymes skip along with an irony reminiscent of William Blake's use of nursery rhyme metre to convey horror. As the world is incinerated we hear: 'cry if you must / there was no one to gather / the heart's dust.'Never for the faint-hearted, Dunes of Cwm Rheidol is John Barnie at the height of his powers, writing poetry that is heart-breaking and true.

Cinnamon Press

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