Powers of Thirteen by John Hollander; The Candy-Floss Tree by Norman Nicholson, Gerda Mayer, Frank Flynn - review by George Szirtes

George Szirtes

Binding Wit

Powers of Thirteen


Secker & Warburg 103pp £5.95 order from our bookshop

The Candy-Floss Tree


Oxford University Press 48pp £4.50 order from our bookshop

When a man writes 169 poems, of thirteen lines each, with thirteen syllables to each line; when he spends precisely thirteen poems explaining the significance of the number thirteen; when one poem is an acrostic based on his own name which contains thirteen letters; and when the last letter of each line of that acrostic adds up to another acrostic, you get the feeling that he is either very superstitious or very clever.

John Hollander is indeed one of those sophisticated American poets who is not bound by a sense of guilt, as are most British poets, when devising immensely complex poetic games. He seizes the chance to explore every technical device in the book plus several that have not yet been patented.

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