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Standard Twin Fantasy by Sam Riviere review an elliptical amuse-bouche

David Wheatley on the pleasures of caustic glamour and stylised paranoia

A whole secret history of contemporary poetry could be written from its chapbooks and pamphlets, those lo-fi leftovers from a simpler age of stapled-together print runs, embarrassing covers, and poems seen once in public and never again. Have you read Medbh McGuckian's Single Ladies, Derek Mahon's Ecclesiastes, Paul Muldoon's The Wishbone? If not, you're missing out. It is revealing that the most significant "lost" item in the Heaney corpus combines the pamphlet and that other poetry oddity, the prose poem: Stations, published in 1975, and now commanding dizzying prices on rare book sites.

Recent years have seen a revival of the pamphlet, as published by enterprising presses such as Tall Lighthouse, Oystercatcher, Landfill, Rack and Egg Box, and as celebrated by the Poetry Society's Michael Marks award. With Standard Twin Fantasy, Sam Riviere follows up his state-of-the-nation collection 81 Austerities with an elliptical amuse-bouche served up with no blurb, biographical note or anything else by way of authorial explanation. The text, too, is much like being at a party where you know no one and no one bothers with introductions. A woman called Kimberly is weighing a marble egg while harpsichord music plays, Veronique fiddles with a remote control, and "Bathsheba complicates the shadows of a fern".

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