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Review: The End of the Trial of Man, by Paul Stubbs

The End of the Trial of Man, by English poet Paul Stubbs, is a radiant, rough, and imminently intelligent "saturation job." Its subject is the art of Francis Bacon. Just published by Arc Publications, this collection shows how Stubbs has reached his fullest as a "serious" and even "difficult" poet, yet one who is willing-who perhaps feels compelled-to guide us as Virgil "out from the darkness" and "God´s aborted."


Readers familiar with such long masterpieces by Stubbs as Ex Nihilo have become familiar with the taut and searing intelligence in his poetry. His poems often appear in open sequences or long pieces, and the characteristics they share most with each other is the same piercing intelligence that examines a question or obsession from multiple perspectives, often simultaneously. Indeed, the poems make one think of the worm-gear, that screwdriver turning in and around its self. Yet Stubbs has developed a voice of his own. No one around today has poems that even look like his on the printed page, nor possessing the insistency on crafting poems that are very often interior / dramatic monologues from the most wildly idiosyncratic constellation of voices, be it a man-God returning to nothingness, or, as in The End of the Trial of Man, the Beast of Yeats, an Apostate, or The Ugliest Man, The Higher Man, and The Second Birth of Man, as in "The Three Final Phases of Perdition," an extremely strong poem in this new collection.