The chemist with a sample analyses an aliquot of that sample, a part of a part of a larger whole. The title of John Clegg's new collection speaks to the poems' sense of being parts of larger wholes, themselves parts of a larger whole... The scientific knowledge and the sometimes old-fashioned diction that abound in these poems are both part of worlds of reference in which sequencing (narrative, historical, scientific) is crucial and revelatory, as in the series of poems 'A Gene Sequence' which take us from Codon to Coda via a number of -ines (Glycine, Asparagine, Tyrosine etc). The complex exercise grows out of George Herbert ('What though my body run to dust?') and administrative duties at a genomics conference in which the language spoken, the terms used, find their way into the organising imagination and prosody of a formidable, witty verse craftsman, with serious contemporary concerns. Aliquot, John Clegg's second Carcanet book, is storm-spooked and jumpy: haunted by jaguars and lynxes, its uneasy silences broken by the retort of punt guns, lightning strikes, and floodwater breaching defences. Among these stretches of foreboding are moments of calm, especially arising out of the joy and rowdy peace of parenthood. These poems are themselves aliquots, of a realised, restive and unique individual world.
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