Satyamurti is one of the displaced Oxford Poets who was fortunate enough to land at Bloodaxe when OUP summarily discontinued their distinguished poetry series. Her previous volumes had an odd mix of the quotidian and the momentous, a strangely disparate collision of Philip Larkin and Adrienne Rich, if you can imagine such a thing, with a keen focus on disappointed love and surprisingly petty jealousies, accurately rendered in intelligent verse. This is more of the same in some ways, but an advance in a new, firmer tone. The first part is a series of ruminations on the nature of love and, as such, seems a logical refinement of her earlier work. The middle section is a cycle of a dozen short poems on the sudden death (at 51) of a man, possibly Satyamurti’s brother; she avoids the obvious pitfalls of such eulogistic poetry and presents a refreshingly rounded portrait of someone whose failings were obvious and sad, but not quite tragic. The final section is a consideration of the elusiveness and evanescence of identity, and the misleading masks it wears. This last theme proves the richest, reaching a hilarious crescendo in the poem “It’s Not the Same,” a giddy reductio ad absurdum of the theme.
On the whole, a pleasing collection.