Wednesday, 28 June 2000

From "‘say Smile’: The Many Faces of Peter Manson"

By Sophie Read.

Faces emerge, even when they are several removes from actually being there, like the reflection that ghosts the lines of the first poem in the book -- the momentary trompe l’oeil of untidily disposed stationery: ‘a white envelope glimpsed on the gas fire which I take for a mirror before realising my mistake’ (p. 5). It is a mistake the poet never seems to learn from, this over-recognition that seeks to fix features on the inanimate object; the world, here, is often made to resolve itself into approximately anthropomorphic shapes, compelled to yield an answering image to the steady regard of the poetic eye. Object permanence is that stage in a child’s development when the realisation dawns that things continue to exist -- the face of a parent, for example -- even when no longer present to the sense. The poet proceeds as if he has only just grasped this principle, and each act of recognition comes with the shock of a new revelation as to the capacities of the human mind.

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