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Review: Dry Stone Work, by Brian Johnstone

A whirling variety of human activities, from the dry stone walling of the title poem, along old tracks, to circus personnel, through small towns with school milk, joke shops, a Durham city street, ghosts and needlewomen, hotels and memories, a cinema, tea drinking, tree surgeons, and the words we throw away to history. All this subject matter full of movement is stilled by Brian Johnstone's elegant and sophisticated verse, honed and matured by his wide reading and acquaintanceship with international poets. Nothing in here is humdrum, nothing is over-personal. It's a kaleidoscope of language as well as of the world.

The title poem gives a clue to the whole: building a world with the bricks or stones of words. The walls of these poems are worked smoothly and expertly. Brian Johnstone's voice has reached mastery in these poems. You can tell who wrote them.