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Terror by Toby Martinez de las Rivas review a symphony of psalms

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This collection of meditations on fear reveals Martinez de las Rivas's visionary disposition

Jeremy Paxman, chair of this year's Forward prize judging panel, might be happier with Reader's Digest, but readers intrigued by Toby Martinez de las Rivas's 2009 Faber New Poets pamphlet will have waited eagerly for a full collection. Terror sustains the ambition and strangeness of that first handful of poems, and concedes nothing to the tribunal of Philistine resentment.

Insofar as its title acknowledges contemporary conditions, the book includes them in a long view, as part of humanity's permanent crisis. "Terror", as Martinez de las Rivas seems to construe it, is the condition of consciousness. St Paul in Philippiansenjoins the believers to "work out your own salvation, in fear and trembling". But salvation is asking a good deal, and Terror is less a work of religious conviction than of ardent inquiry, and testimony to the imagination's findings: "In the darkness, falling / And falling like snowflakes beyond all light & knowledge."

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