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Review: Finite Formulae & Theories of Chance, by Wioletta Greg

David Hart, Stride Magazine, 2015

A poem, 'Sleepless in Ryde', towards the end of the poems, has a quoted subtitle from Kafka from his diaries 1910-1923, in Polish, translated into English, A void separates me from everything/ and so I don't even go near the edge. This is rich enough already: Kafka quoted in Polish on the Isle of Wight, and the short poem opens this up to,

A speckled iris - a ginger cat on the window sill,
shiny fur on the edge of air
jumping out of itself
just to catch a puff-ball.

An Englishwoman released by a Victorian tenement.
Let the walls forgive her daily cursing.
At night, the void opens up, cracking the temples,
full of a child's cries and whistling ferries.

I wish I knew whether 'temple' has a double meaning in Polish.


Other poems summon up the past and there is throughout the book a starkness of image, an engagement with life where it hurts. The journal part of the book, about a third of it, moves from a line such as I feel closer to ghosts than to the living to a more laidback anecdote:

I go into a shop with old furniture and in the corner spot a beautiful, antique dressing-table.
"Is it art nouveau?" I ask in English.
The young shopkeeper shrugs, shaking his head.
"Nope, think it's oak."

The more intense past never disappears, though, from the present, and this is a book, its poems especially, that, with the others here, I hope will circulate widely. We need such poetry.