The vulture, the presiding genius of Gerard Woodward’s collection, is at once sympathetic and awful, intimate and other. Woodward naturally positions himself at uncomfortable borders and thresholds, and in doing so alerts us to the flimsiness of the conceits of home, of family and human culture. Many poets have challenged our lazy habit of addressing nature though the pathetic fallacy; few have had the nerve to consciously embrace it as a subversive strategy, through which we can explore the strange intimacies we share with other life-forms. The Vulture shows insects and animals and plants invade, infect and fuse with us at every turn; elsewhere, the architecture of our lives, our houses, gardens, careers and bodies, are revealed as the provisional drafts they are. No contemporary poet unsettles like Woodward: he does so through no easy surrealism, but instead an extraordinary ability to render our home the alien planet it is, and give conscious voice and vivid shape to the terrible sense of precariousness that lies just below our waking state.
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