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Poetry book of the month: So Many Rooms by Laura Scott – review

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Nothing is what it seems in this debut collection, which channels Leo Tolstoy with extraordinary results

I knew nothing about Laura Scott when I picked this book up by chance. There is a thrill in encountering a debut collection that insists – in this case, with exceptional grace – on being read. I couldn’t put it down and have kept returning to these poems, drawn in – and on – by their beauty and clarity. It is the clarity that interests because it offers a false sense of security and lightly, deliberately, misleads. These poems are not as see-through as they might, at first, appear. The title is So Many Rooms, but this is a mysterious collection of secret passages and moving uncertainties.

The opening poem, If I Could Write Like Tolstoy, introduces a voice intent on investigating spaces we do not ordinarily occupy. A lazy glance might encourage the notion that Scott was merely leaning on Tolstoy, depending upon his genius. But repeated reading shows something other: her conditional tense creates a new space that does and does not exist – like imagination itself.

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