Poetry: Liane Strauss | clivejames.com
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Liane Strauss

One of the pleasures of building this section of the website is to have been plunged into the poetic world of the late Michael Donaghy, whose alumni are disproportionately represented on my guest list. If he gave them water to drink during seminars, there must have been something in it. Among the leaders of a pack that seems to consist almost entirely of leaders, Liane Strauss has got something going in her poetry that it took Donaghy himself adequately to describe. If I may paraphrase him here, he said that her poems were held together by their impetus, which was made possible by her acute sense of rhythm. This particle-beam velocity, it seems to me, is exactly the right thing to emphasise about her work. Not that any of it could have been composed hastily: but the effect of its crafty putting-together is to create an onrushing rhetoric that comes perilously close, on occasions, to being its own subject. Whether for reader or writer, there is always a danger in getting carried away; but she circumvents it by the precision with which she sees the world, and especially the interior world of romance. She can drive a standard romantic line straight at the wall of cliche and spin the wheel at the last moment ("The nothings you whispered were not sweet") so that the whole idea turns into a memorable night out, with a picnic on the canal bank at dawn as the car finishes sinking out of sight. But she has no chance of turning off the glamour that her hurtling forms generate, like girls painted on the engine cowlings of WW II American fighter planes taking off from East Anglian airfields made to look doubly wan by the shining silver imported machinery. It is all very American and no doubt deplorable but I can't imagine that anyone will cry "Yankee go home" in any voice above a whisper. Her work is helping to provide the dazzling evidence that there is a new school of poets in London for whom the Atlantic has simply disappeared.

Strauss by Donaghy