Academic journal article John Clare Society Journal

Black over Red

Academic journal article John Clare Society Journal

Black over Red

Article excerpt

Black over Red. By LOTTE KRAMER. Ware, Herts.: The Rockingham Press. 2005. pp. 64. £7.95.

'Where shall we walk to when the dust obscures / Hearing and sight ...?' So begins 'Where', one of the many fine sonnets in Lotte Kramer's close-packed tenth collection. The poem is composed of a series of urgent questions, with its sole consolatory answer uttered by 'all the voices ever known', which are themselves absent, their confirming words conjured by the poet:

That final verb, 'compel', brilliantly calls into question the poet's continual, eloquent quest for 'home'.

Black over Red confirms Kramer as a powerful and mercurial poet of place. She came to England from Nazi Germany in 1939 with the Kindertransport, and the puzzle of England being 'home' is at the heart of her poetry. She has lived in Peterborough for many years, just a few miles from Helpston. As poet, she inhabits in a quite extraordinary way the physical territory of John Clare, but her spiritual territory is absolutely her own. Kramer writes with a wonderfully exact eye about her adopted 'local habitation', but the Northamptonshire of her poems is shot through with other-wheres. …

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