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The Fourth Sister by Laura Scott review – the deadliest slur of all?

The poet pays homage to Chekhov in her second collection, in which boredom is both feared and acknowledged and desperation tussles with wit Laura Scott’s poetry is clear, illuminating yet not uncomplicated: there is a mystery at its edges, a recognition of how life slips away, unbiddable, non-compliant. In Email – involving two rooms with a view – the challenge in responding to the email that makes up the first half of the poem encompasses, one guesses, a greater and unexplored difficulty beyond how the leaves or branches or sky are behaving. The poem’s question “So how do I reply?” underpins much of her writing, a chastening self-doubt that contributes to her attractive power as a poet. Scott’s wonderful debut, So Many Rooms, established her as a devotee of Russian literature – especially Tolstoy. And here, again, she honours literature as a living presence and shows how what we read plaits itself into how we live. The Fourth Sister is a homage to Chekhov (Scott is, if I have understood her correctly, one of three sisters herself). The fourth sister, the one Chekhov did not write about, becomes a receptacle for all that haunts her. The title poem is like a bell that cannot toll: Continue reading...

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