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If Lavinia Greenlaw’s Minsk was about home, her new collection tests the proximities of elsewhere, ‘the circle round our house’, the road between two lives. Its title recalls a phrase of Robert Lowell’s to describe Elizabeth Bishop — one of the book’s presiding spirits, with her insistence on the provisional, on the moment in which perception is formed, on landscape as action rather than description. The Casual Perfect continues Lavinia Greenlaw’s explorations of light and the borders of vision, which include a journey to the four corners of Britain to observe the solstices and equinoxes, and a cycle about the East Anglian landscape which is nine-tenths sky. Questions of travel hover around many of these poems, or questions which need to be ‘travelled fully’ rather than answered — and which involve the overheard and the glimpsed, what is gleaned from traces and external signs. The result is a collection that is under-stated, spare but inclusive, which invites our presence as readers.
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