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Public Property was Andrew Motion’s first collection of poetry after being appointed Poet Laureate. In it, he negotiates the very space of poetry, moving between private and public realms, pondering each from the other’s borders. In the opening series of idylls he conjures the expeditionary narratives of a rural childhood, in scenes as precisely remembered as they are irretrievable. Elsewhere he reconsiders moments from the Victorian past from reticent and surprising angles, and elsewhere again he tackles distinctly contemporary themes and situations. The final section of the book contains a number of elegies and love poems, written in a variety of lyric forms, which provoke concerns that are among the most critical in poetry: What is public art? To whom do our most private sentiments belong?
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