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The Mizzy by Paul Farley review – soaring and stirring

This avian-themed collection – mixed with stories of hangovers and red carpets – is witty, insightful and fabulously bizarre

You can never predict how – or where – a Paul Farley poem is going to land. This hugely enjoyable collection The Mizzy (nickname for a mistle thrush) is, among other things, a birder’s book. The birds are scattered as in life – they alight between poems on other subjects. They have something of John Clare’s style or disarming lack of it (Farley was editor of a selection of Clare’s poems for Faber in 2007). Like Clare, Farley is comradely towards nature, his bird’s-eye view is respectful, his anthropomorphism not belittling.

But he has his own wit and singular insights. What the robin shows him as it hops ahead, he passes on, a plain expression of a good thought: “... showing us where the edge/ of the present moment is”.

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