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Review: Commandments, by Jackie Wills

To pick up Jackie Will's Commandments is to be struck by how very English it is - by which I mean grounded, filled with the stuff of the world, and colour. The poems work through vivid detail, story, and then a little floater to lift the poem above specifics. Appeasement is the simplest example, a poem naming wind, beach, surf, cliffs, and tideline, the place where maybe, it concludes, is the offering you're looking for.

The commandments of the title are dealt with separately and variously, not in a separate section, but layered in-between the book's other poems. Don't commit adultery romps through a list of the places not to do it; Don't make idols stays closer to its Biblical origin: I'll queue / in any unknown cathedral to rub a relic. These ten poems are criss-crossed by partial self-portraits, The me who drinks too much, ...who's a mother, ...who's a wish. Family, motherhood, and the other woman make appearances - the latter's inside a mobile phone, flat as a Sim card in Inured.

The book's second part is set in specific landscapes, still peopled (even if by inference) as is the river in Cuckmere Haven

its swans, paddling in the lazy flow
so achingly monogamous.