Swansongs by Sue Lenier; £4      from The Oleander Press, 17 Stansgate Ave, Cambridge CB2   2QZ

To call one’s first (young) collection Swansongs implies a strong sense of irony. To see one’s work hailed as “better” than both Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath demands a resistance to flattery. Let’s hope Sue Lenier has both, since this is a remarkable book and her poetic assurance is notable. She can mesh the classical with the modern (“Cassandra”) in a hard- edged lyric mode which at its best lifts and swoops the verse in a vivid, image-rich rhythm. This is particu- larly true of her love sonnets, which  are impressive in their tightness. She  rings many changes on conventional lyric-nature imagery, and her facility is sometimes mechanical – sliding into a Tennysonian hypnosis. But there is no doubt that she is an exciting and unconventional (to us) poet. 

Michelene Wandor