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Border review between the real and the imagined

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Peter Bennet's poems embrace everything from the Hitler-loving Mitford sister to the Tyne salmon in 'its pelt of light'

Border selects from Peter Bennet's recent books and adds new poems, so it's a good place for new readers to explore the substantial body of work of a poet now in his 70s who came quite late to writing after training as a painter. Here the visible world is sharply present, but being made of words makes that world audible as well.

The borders of the real and the imagined are frequently breached in these poems: this seems in part a condition of their primary location. The borders of England and Scotland were formerly known as the Debatable Lands, for centuries an ungovernable terrain where opposing families of reivers stole each other's cattle and womenfolk and conducted blood feuds worthy of the earlier Norse saga-world from which they claimed descent. The gentry remain in many cases the same bandits, but with bank accounts. The Borders are also a ballad-world, where legend and the supernatural can wield greater authority than mere fact. Something is always keening and tapping at the door to come in, or slyly revealing that it's already on the premises.

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